The work done during indentation is examined using dimensional analysis and finite element calculations for conical indentation in elastic-plastic solids with work hardening. An approximate relationship between the ratio of hardness to elastic modulus and the ratio of irreversible work to total work in indentation is found. Consequently, the ratio of hardness to elastic modulus may be obtained directly from measuring the work of indentation. Together with a well-known relationship between elastic modulus, initial unloading slope, and contact area, a new method is then suggested for estimating the hardness and modulus of solids using instrumented indentation with conical or pyramidal indenters.

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