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Nanoindentation experiments were carried out on a columnar ∼1.5-m-thick TiN film on steel using a conical indenter with a 5-m tip radius. Microstructural examination of the contact zone indicates that after initial elastic deformation, the deformation mechanism of the TiN is dominated by shear fracture at inter-columnar grain boundaries of the TiN film. A simple model is proposed whereby the applied load is partitioned between a deforming TiN annulus and a central expanding cavity in the steeldoi:10.1557/jmr.2004.0339 fatcat:o6xtauvnijhtpprelafkrbpxqq