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Nanoindentation of crystalline and amorphous silicon nitride films is studied using 10-million-atom molecular dynamics simulations. A rigid pyramid-shaped indenter tip is used. Load–displacement curves are computed and are used to derive hardness and elastic moduli of the simulated crystalline and amorphous films. Computer images of local pressure distributions and configuration snapshots show that plastic deformation in the film extends to regions far from the actual indent. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.