Nanoindentation is a mechanical characterization technique used for assessing numerous nano- and micro-scale materials properties, including elastic modulus, hardness, adhesion and viscoelastic properties.
How it works – A small probe with a well-defined geometry is pushed into a sample’s sample surface with forces that range between 10s of nN to 10 N, and a load – depth curve is recorded during the indentation process. The resulting load – depth curve can be used to extract materials properties such as elastic modulus and hardness. Rate and dynamic properties can be estimated using various contact mechanics models.
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- Large force range available for testing (max 10 N)
- In addition to indentation, additional test modes are available including dynamic mechanical analysis (nano-DMA), scratch and wear testing, electrical contact resistance, and acoustic emission monitoring
- Samples and resulting indents can be imaging using the SPM imaging mode
- Small sample volumes are probed, enabling testing of specific sample areas as well as thin films.
- A wide range of samples, from biological and polymeric materials to diamond-like carbon films, can be tested reliably
- Elastic modulus and hardness can be probed as a function of depth
- In-situ SPM imaging allows for visualization of sample damage after indentation
- Tip calibration procedures are crucial for extracting reliable properties and can be time-consuming
- Reliable measurements on rough surfaces are difficult to obtain
- Built-in analysis algorithms assume linear, isotropic materials; crystallography and non-linear elastic behavior require more complex analysis
- Measurement of elastic modulus and hardness as a function of depth
- Fracture analysis
- Scratch and wear testing
- Thin film testing
- Study of nanoindentation-induced phase transformations