Measuring mechanical properties of coatings: A methodology applied to nano-particle-filled sol-gel coatings on glass

J. Malzbender*, J.M.J. den Toonder, A. R. Balkenende, G. de With

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

292 Citations (Scopus)


The main aim of this paper is to demonstrate the practical use of nano-indentation and scratch testing in determining mechanical properties of thin coatings. We place our emphasis on how information obtained using both techniques can be combined to give a more complete representation of the properties of a coating-substrate system. Part I of the paper gives an overview of approaches to determine mechanical properties of thin coatings that have been proposed in the literature, and develops them further to be useful tools in the analysis of coatings. This results in methods for measuring the mechanical properties of thin coatings. We particularly emphasise the determination of the elastic modulus, hardness, coating and interfacial fracture toughness and residual stress using indentation and scratch testing. Part II of the paper illustrates the application of these methods to relatively soft coatings of methyltrimethoxysilane (MTMS) filled with colloidal silica or alumina particles on glass. The coatings were prepared using a sol-gel process. We report results of the dependence of the mechanical properties on the filler particle content, illustrating that microstructural changes can also be tracked using these techniques. The effects of the nature and volume fraction of the filler particles are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-103
Number of pages57
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering: R: Reports
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the Philips Research Laboratories, Eindhoven, for the financial support.


  • Mechanical properties
  • Nano-indentation
  • Scratch testing


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