Mechanical Property Characterization

Microhardness testing and nanoindentation characterize ceramic and composite materials over a range of applied loads. Nanoindentation is the simplest way to measure the Young’s modulus and Vickers hardness of ceramics.  Nanoindentation can be done on an as-manufactured part, thus eliminating the need to extract samples for tensile testing.

Nanoindentation is also useful for characterizing composite materials because the scale of the test can be varied to characterize individual components, interphase regions, or bulk properties.  For example, when testing fiberglass, one may probe the Young’s modulus and hardness of the glass fibers and polymer independently, or prescribe indentation tests which are large enough to characterize the fiberglass as a whole.  

The iMicro and iNano are the only commercially available nanoindenters to simultaneously meet specifications for displacement range, digital resolution, noise floor and drift rate.  Dynamic indentation measurements provide mechanical property maps as a function of XY spatial dimension and depth. The iMicro and iNano indentation systems offer the most reproducible results with no operator bias.

An array of indentations can quickly provide reproducible indentation data. With new high speed capability, data can be acquired in less than 1 second per indentation. This is demonstrated with modulus mapping and statistical analysis for a fiberglass composite sample:

NanoBlitz fiberglass modulus data and statistical analysis

Fiberglass composite sample (left) with corresponding modulus map (center) and statistical analysis (right) using the NanoBlitz option

The statistical data is automatically generated by the indentation software. For this sample, the data show the bimodal distribution for the epoxy on the left and fiberglass modulus on the right around 80 GPa.

The iMicro provides high load indentation with dynamic measurements plus crack initiation and growth testing. The iMicro has high force capacity with a high load frame stiffness and is recommended for very hard ceramic samples. The iMicro and iNano offer a high speed capability for four dimensional property maps of hardness, modulus, and stiffness along with topography. 

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