On the ability of nanoindentation to measure anisotropic elastic constants of pyrolytic carbon



We used cube corner, Berkovich, cono-spherical, and Vickers indenters to measure the indentation modulus of highly oriented bulk pyrolytic carbon both normal to and parallel to the plane of elastic isotropy. We compared the measurements with elastic constants previously obtained using strain gage methods and ultrasound phase spectroscopy. While no method currently exists to extract the anisotropic elastic constants from the indentation modulus, the method of Delafargue and Ulm (DU) [17] was used to predict the indentation modulus from the known elastic constants. The indentation modulus normal to the plane of isotropy was %sim; 20% higher than the DU predictions and was independent of indenter type. The indentation modulus parallel to the plane of isotropy was 2–3 times lower than DU predictions, was depth dependent, and was lowest for the cube corner indenter. We attribute the low indentation modulus to nanobuckling of the graphite-like planes and the indenter type dependence to the impact of differing degree of transverse stress on the tendency toward nanobuckling.