Atomistic simulation of nanoindentation with spherical indenters was carried out to study dislocation structures, mean contact pressure, and nanohardness of Au and Al thin films. Slip vectors and atomic stresses were used to characterize the dislocation processes. Two different characteristics were found in the induced dislocation structures: wide-spread slip activities in Al, and confined and intact structures in Au. For both samples, the mean contact pressure varied significantly during the early stages of indentation but reached a steady value soon after the first apparent load drop. This indicates that the nanohardness of Al and Au is not affected by the indentation depth for spherical indenters, even at the atomistic scale.
Interaction and multiscale mechanics 1(4), pp.411-422