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Introduction

Michael Grüninger, Jintae Lee
Published 2002 · Computer Science
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Since its commercialization early in the 20th century, indentation testing has played a key role in the development of new materials and understanding their mechanical behavior. Progress in the field has relied on a close marriage between research in the mechanical behavior of materials and contact mechanics. The seminal work of Hertz laid the foundations for bringing these two together, with his contributions still widely utilized today in examining elastic behavior and the physics of fracture. Later, the pioneering work of Tabor, as published in his classic text The Hardness of Metals, expanded this understanding to address the complexities of plasticity. Enormous progress in the field has been achieved in the last decade, made possible both by advances in instrumentation, for example, load and depth-sensing indentation and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) based in situ testing, as well as improved modeling capabilities that use computationally intensive techniques such as finite element analysis and molecular dynamics simulation. The purpose of this special focus issue is to present recent state of the art developments in the field. The idea for the special focus issue was born at the International Symposium on Indentation Behavior of Materials in Hyderabad, India, February 2008. The conference focused on recent developments in indentation testing, in general, and its importance in modern materials research and advanced materials development. The plenary talk, given by Professor Ian Hutchings, chronicled the contributions of the late Professor David Tabor’s seminal work in the field, and its long reaching importance. Professor Hutchings has transcribed that presentation into a historical overview that appears as the lead paper of this issue. Those of us working in the field owe a great deal to Professor Tabor for his insight and early leadership, which is apparent by the numerous times his work is referenced in this volume. The sheer number of papers that were offered for the issue—more than 100—attests to the vitality of the field, which has advanced both on experimental and theoretical fronts. Although many of the concepts in indentation mechanics are rudimentary, the mathematical complexity of elastic, plastic, and time dependent deformation has in many instances eluded closed-form solutions. Thus, as amply illustrated in the issue, more advanced techniques such as finite element and neural network analysis have been brought to bear to further advance our understanding. In addition, with the advent of nanoindentation instrumentation and small-scale testing techniques, the size of many indentation contacts has been reduced to a range that overlaps what can be achieved in atomic simulations. As such, molecular DOI: 10.1557/JMR.2009.0146
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