Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 52, Issue 21, pp 12553–12573 | Cite as

Determination of material properties of thin films and coatings using indentation tests: a review

  • Wu Wen
  • Adib A. BeckerEmail author
  • Wei Sun


This paper presents a review of the mechanical characterisation of thin film and coated systems using indentation tests. The potential in assessing mechanical properties of films and coatings using indentation tests has received a great deal of attention since this knowledge is vital for predicting their performance. The relevant theoretical background is discussed. Experimental work, numerical studies and data interpretation techniques for indentation on single bulk materials and thin films are discussed. Surface conditions, indentation depths and indentation size effects for indentation tests on thin films and coated systems are discussed. Data interpretation methods for indentation on films and coated systems are reviewed with a discussion on their limitations. Other studies in this field concerning the substrate effects and critical indentation depth ratios are also discussed. Suggestions for future experimental work and data interpretation are provided.



This work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Innovative Metal Process (IMPaCT, [Grant Number EPL016206].

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EngineeringUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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