Determination of the elastic modulus of microscale ceramic particles via nanoindentation

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Nanoindentation of the reinforcement in a particulate reinforced metal matrix composite (PR MMC) enables direct investigation of reinforcement properties within the finished material. Mismatch between the elastic moduli of the reinforcement and matrix creates a "secondary indentation" effect, whereby the stiffer reinforcement particles themselves "indent" the more compliant matrix. A finite-element investigation was undertaken to quantify the additional penetration arising under secondary indentation for spherical and cylindrical particles. Modification of Sneddon's equation for a flat punch by a scalar particle shape factor provided an accurate estimate of the additional penetration. The modified equation was combined with the analysis of Field and Swain to extract the particle elastic modulus from results obtained using a spherical indenter under a multiple partial-unloading indentation regime. The resulting methodology was used to determine the elastic moduli of silicon carbide particles and Micral(TM) microspheres in two aluminum-matrix PR MMCs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2437-2447
JournalJournal of Materials Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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