Molecular dynamics simulations of nanoindentation - the importance of force field choice on the predicted elastic modulus of FCC aluminum

DR Pratt and LS Morrissey and S Nakhla, MOLECULAR SIMULATION, 46, 923-931 (2020).

DOI: 10.1080/08927022.2020.1791859

Molecular Dynamics (MD) was used to determine the accuracy of different force fields on predicting the elastic modulus of single crystal aluminum through nanoindentation tests. In this work, nanoindentation was performed using three different types of force fields (EAM, MEAM and ReaxFF) and the resulting elastic modulus was compared to the value obtained using elastic constants from standard small strain tensile simulations. When the predicted modulus of each force field was compared to the modulus via elastic constants, the ReaxFF resultant moduli were similar to that of nanoindentation, but for EAM and MEAM the two methods produced significantly different values. Therefore, even if a force field is parameterised for elastic modulus, it does not guarantee the force field will accurately predict the modulus from other procedures. As well, two different methods for calculating modulus from indentation curves were compared: The Hertz approximation and the Oliver and Pharr (O&P) method. For EAM and MEAM force fields, the Hertz method significantly under predicted modulus while the O&P method was in better agreement with the experimental modulus.

Return to Publications page