The Point Contact Microscope (PCM), developed in NTT’s Kaneko Research Laboratory, is used to conduct hardness tests on polycarbonate and gold at indentation depths in the range of about 5-100 nm. Different diamond indenters, which are attached to single leaf springs of various stiffnesses, are used to study the effects of tip radius and apex angle on the measured hardness values. The indentation depth versus force and hardness versus force relations for various tip conditions are examined. It is found that the hardness value obtained increases for small values of indentation load and approaches a tip-independent value for larger loads. The hardness is sensitive to the indentation force and tip radius in the limit of small indentation depths. In this case, a standard indenter and a fixed load should be used to compare the hardnesses of different materials. The effect of the apex angle on the hardness is relatively insignificant.

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