Nanoindentation (NI) is a nano-mechanical test that provides the mechanical properties from precise compliance measurements. In addition, nanoindentation analysis is especially useful in measuring properties such as the modulus and hardness of various shaped and sized materials. For example, nanoindentation is useful to characterize semiconductor thin films, packaging, advanced alloys, thermal barrier coatings, polymer viscoelasticity, scratch and wear resistance.
Nanoindentation uses contacts, where a probe is pushed into a solid, while the penetration depth is recorded simultaneously with near-atomic resolution. In addition, this capability can reduce the probing volume down to an order of magnitude of 100 nm3, which allows the use of continuum mechanical contact models to extract properties like hardness and modulus for thin films and constituents of microstructures. The contact geometries and testing methods are configurable so that mechanical characterization can be extended to brittle properties, adhesion, stress-strain, scratch, wear or structural stiffness of microstructures.
Theory of instrumented-indentation
Nanoindentation experiments are typically conducted either quasi-statically or dynamically, while the properties are extracted using contact or oscillator physics.
Examples of Nanoindentation
Firstly, a quick assessment of wafers or thin films on wafers during quality control
Investigation of effects during process development (e.g. PVD, CVD) in semiconductor device fabrication
Simulation of contact conditions observable in practical use-cases for failure analysis
Mapping spatial distribution of mechanical characteristics on multi-phase materials
Studying deformation mechanisms (elasticity, plasticity, brittle behavior or phase-transformation)
Accurate assessment of structural compliance of microstructures and particles
Gaining highly localized insights into stress-strain relationship of a material
Studying adhesion properties on surface and thin film interfaces
Obtaining accurate mechanical property values for input into physical modeling (e.g. finite element or analytical analysis)
Lastly, an assessment of viscous material properties through creep and relaxation testing, as well as dynamical mechanical analysis on the nanoscale
Ideal Uses of Nanoindentation
Firstly, quantitative mechanical characterization of highly-localized material properties, including hardness, elastic modulus, fracture toughness, creep, topography
Secondly, obtaining other material characteristics, including storage- and loss-modulus from dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) on nano-scale, thin film adhesion, wear, friction and structural compliance
Advanced Loading Techniques
Firstly, quasi-static indentation:
Multiple partial unloading
Secondly, dynamic indentation:
Tilt corrected multi-pass
Finally, in-situ imaging:
Accurate test positioning on features of few-100 nm size
Probes: Conical, Flat, Berkovich, Cube, custom sizes and shapes
Lateral Resolution: <50 nm
In conclusion, nanoindentation is a great tool to investigate many mechanical properties of a material. Finally, if you would like to discuss using our nanoindentation service for your analysis, please complete the form to request an expert to contact you.
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