A technique to perform nanofatigue experiments was developed. This technique utilizes a depth-sensing nanoindenter with harmonic force. The nanofatigue behavior of 20 nm thick amorphous carbon coatings was studied. The contact stiffness was monitored continuously throughout the test. The abrupt decrease in the contact stiffness indicates fatigue damage has occurred. The critical load amplitude, below which no fatigue damage occurs, was identified. It was found that the filtered cathodic arc coating exhibits longer fatigue life than a direct ion beam coating. Failure mechanisms of the coatings during fatigue are also discussed in conjunction with the hardness,elastic modulus, and fracture toughness, as well as deposition processes. The dynamic nanoindentation fatigue test used in this study can be satisfactorily used to simulate and study damage at the head–disk interface.
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