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Multiscale modelling of nanoindentation: from atomistic to continuum models
Nanoindentation revealed a number of effects, like pop-in behavior or indentation size effects, that are very different from the classical mechanical behavior of bulk materials and that have therefore sparked a lot of research activities. In this contribution a multiscale approach is followed to understand the mechanisms behind this peculiar material behavior during nanoindentation. Atomistic simulations reveal the mechanisms of dislocation nucleation and multiplication during the very start of plastic deformation. From mesoscale dislocation density based models we gain advanced insight into how plastic zones develop and spread through materials with heterogeneous dislocation microstructures. Crystal plasticity models on the macroscale, finally, are able to reproduce load-indentation curves and remaining imprint topologies in a way that is directly comparable to experimental results and, thus, allows for the determination of true material properties by inverse methods. The complex interplay of the deformation mechanisms occurring on different length scales is described and the necessity to introduce the knowledge about fundamental deformation mechanisms into models on higher length scales is highlighted.