Nanomechanical Scratch Test (Nano-Scratch)

Nanomechanical Scratch Test
3D Image of Nano-Scratch on moderately soft film. Rupture of film at low-load indicates susceptibility to failure

Nanomechanical scratch testing (nano-scratch) is an alternate nanomechanical testing mode to nano-indent or nano-wear box testing, which is used to measure force response and mechanical properties typically of thin films and coatings.

  • Works on thin films (10nm and more)
  • Advanced mechanical analysis of nano- or micro-scale solids
  • Optimized toughness / adhesion test for thin films 10 nm or thicker
  • Efficient data collection
  • Minimal sample preparation
  • Destructive
  • Not well suited to measure ultrathin layers (less than 10 nm)
  • Interpretation is challenging if films are less than 100 nm and/or surface is rough
Example Outputs

3D Image of Nano-Scratch on moderately soft film. Rupture of film at low-load indicates susceptibility to failure

From: Bruker

2D plot of displacement over time showing fall-off associated with film delamination due to scratch-test.

From: Bruker
Instruments Used for Nano-Scratch
Anton Paar STeP 6 Platform

Anton Paar STeP 6 Platform

  • Multiple Nanomechanical Testing Heads:
    • UNHT3: Ultra Nanoindentation Tester
      Normal Load Range: 10 μN to 100 mN
    • NST3: Nano-scratch Tester
      Normal Load Range: 10 mN to 1 N
  • Depth Range: 10 nm to 100 μm
  • Acoustic enclosure with anti-vibration table
  • Heated stage
  • Integrated optical video microscopes for synchronized panoramic imaging during force measurement
  • Long-term thermal stability for elevated-temperature analysis
Sample Requirements
  • Medium to hard solids (10 GPa – 100 MPa)
  • Flat surface for best result
  • Samples cut to 2 cm x 2 cm to fit in Hysitron enclosure
How Nano-Scratch Works

In nano-scratch testing, both thin films and bulk solids can be characterized, and a more diverse array of deformation and fracture features can be analyzed as compared to standard nano-indentation.

In this measurement mode, a calibrated force normal to the sample surface is applied to an indenter tip while it is skimmed across the sample. In addition to standard penetration depth and indent characteristics, the nano-scratch test also calibrates and measures the amount of force required to keep the tip moving laterally across the sample surface.

The tip force, displacement, and optically profiled sample damage are then jointly analyzed to interpolate nanomechanical properties of the specimen, including: friction co-efficent, adhesion, hardness, and more.

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