Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

The Compelling Case for Indentation as a Functional Exploratory and Characterization Tool

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Trevor Page


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


The utility of indentation testing for characterizing a wide range of mechanical properties of brittle materials is highlighted in light of recent articles questioning its validity, specifically in relation to the measurement of toughness. Contrary to assertion by some critics, indentation fracture theory is fundamentally founded in Griffith-Irwin fracture mechanics, based on model crack systems evolving within inhomogeneous but well-documented elastic and elastic-plastic contact stress fields. Notwithstanding some numerical uncertainty in associated stress intensity factor relations, the technique remains an unrivalled quick, convenient and economical means for comparative, site-specific toughness evaluation. Most importantly, indentation patterns are unique fingerprints of mechanical behavior and thereby afford a powerful functional tool for exploring the richness of material diversity. At the same time, it is cautioned that unconditional usage without due attention to the conformation of the indentation patterns can lead to overstated toughness values. Limitations of an alternative, more engineering approach to fracture evaluation, that of propagating a precrack through a "standard" machined specimen, are also outlined. Misconceptions in the critical literature concerning the fundamental nature of crack equilibrium and stability within contact and other inhomogeneous stress fields are discussed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Marshall DB, Cook RF, Padture NP, Oyen ML, Pajares A, Bradby JE, Reimanis IE, Tandon R, Page TF, Pharr GM, Lawn BR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of the American Ceramic Society

Year: 2015

Volume: 98

Issue: 9

Pages: 2671-2680

Print publication date: 01/09/2015

Online publication date: 30/07/2015

Acceptance date: 23/05/2015

ISSN (print): 0002-7820

ISSN (electronic): 1551-2916

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/jace.13729


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
II-VI Foundation
Australian Research Council Future Fellowship
Sandia National Laboratories
U.K. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
CMMI 1069165National Science Foundation
DE-AC04-94AL85000Lockheed Martin Corporation, for U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration
DE-FG02-10ER4677U.S. Department of energy (DoE-BES)
DE-FG02-07ER46397U.S. Department of energy (DoE-BES)
N00014-09-C-0288U.S. Office of Naval Research