One-to-one spatially matched experiment and atomistic simulations of nanometre-scale indentation

DJ Oliver and W Paul and M El Ouali and T Hagedorn and Y Miyahara and Y Qi and PH Grutter, NANOTECHNOLOGY, 25, 025701 (2014).

DOI: 10.1088/0957-4484/25/2/025701

We have carried out nanoindentation studies of gold in which the indenter is atomically characterized by field-ion microscopy and the scale of deformation is sufficiently small to be directly compared with atomistic simulations. We find that many features of the experiment are correctly reproduced by molecular dynamics simulations, in some cases only when an atomically rough indenter rather than a smooth repulsive- potential indenter is used. Heterogeneous nucleation of dislocations is found to take place at surface defect sites. Using input from atomistic simulations, a model of indentation based on stochastic transitions between continuum elastic-plastic states is developed, which accurately predicts the size distributions of plastic 'pop-in' events and their dependence on tip geometry.

Return to Publications page