NANOMECHANICAL TESTING SERVICES
Mechanical and tribological properties are critical to performance across a broad spectrum of applications, and nanomechanical testing techniques evaluate these properties on micrometer to nanometer length scales. Also known as nanoindentation or instrumented indentation testing, these techniques work by vertically pushing an ultrahard tip into the sample. The resulting force and displacement data enable accurate, quantitative measurements of properties ranging from hardness, modulus, and fracture toughness to friction and wear. Nanomechanical testing is particularly useful for stiff materials such as metals, ceramics, semiconductors, and glasses but can also be performed on polymers and other compliant materials.
APPLICATION AREAS FOR NANOMECHANICAL TESTING SERVICES:
- Thin Films and Coatings
- Optical Components
- Manufacturing: Process Control, Quality Control, Failure Analysis
- MEMS and NEMS
- Solar Cells and Photovoltaics
- Materials Science Development
MEASUREMENTS FROM NANOMECHANICAL TESTING:
- Hardness and modulus of films, microstructures, small parts, and other localized regions
- Friction and wear of coatings, interfaces, and substrates
- Interfacial adhesion and fracture toughness of films, coatings, and graded interfaces
- Scratch testing versus applied load
USES & LIMITATIONS OF NANOMECHANICAL TESTING SERVICES:
- Quantitative measurements with sub-micrometer spatial resolution
- Applicable to virtually all materials including metals, ceramics, composites, and polymers
- Easily handles samples inaccessible to macroscale tools (e.g., thin films, MEMS, micro-components)
- Instrumentation design inherently yields highly accurate data
- In-house calibration protocol ensures more reliable, repeatible results
- In-situ scanning probe microscopy (SPM) provides additional measurement accuracy and insight
- Ultrathin (<10s nm) layers can require more sophisticated procedures
- Measurements on soft polymers may be challenging
- Permanently damages a micro-sized volume of the sample
- Limited capabilities for 2D imaging
EXAMPLE OUTPUTS FROM NANOMECHANICAL TESTING
The linear sensing and actuation design of nanoindentation instruments enables extremely precise, accurate measurements.
Three ways to measure surface mechanical properties:
- Indent: Hardness test for films > 50nm.
- Scratch: Toughness/Adhesion test for films 1 nm or greater.
- Wearbox: Durability test for films down to ~ 1nm.
Comparison of hardness versus time obtained using Covalent’s in-house algorithm (orange) and a standard algorithm (blue). The Covalent algorithm yields more repeatible results with lower variability.