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Nanoindentation of Polymers: An Overview.

pdf icon Nanoindentation of Polymers: An Overview. (774 K)
VanLandingham, M. R.; Villarrubia, J. S.; Guthrie, W. F.; Meyers, G. F.

Advances in Scanning Probe Microscopy of Polymers. Macromolecular Symposia. Volume 167. Proceedings. 2001, Tsukruk, V. V.; Spencer, N. D., Editor(s)(s), 15-44 pp, 2001.


polymers; atomic force microscopy (AFM); Berkovich indenter; blind reconstruction; depth-sensing indentation (DSI); interfacial force microscope (IFM); load frame compliance; statistical uncertainties; tip shape calibration; Young's modulus


In this paper, the application of instrumented indentation devices to the measurement of the elastic modulus of polymeric materials is reviewed. This review includes a summary of traditional analyses of load-penetration data and a discussion of associated uncertainties. Also, the use of scanning probe microscopes to measure the nanoscale mechanical response of polymers is discussed, particularly with regard to the associated limitations. The application of these methods to polymers often leads to measurements of elastic modulus that are somewhat high relative to bulk measurements with potentially artificial trends in modulus as a function of penetration depth. Also, power law fits to indentation unloading curves are often a poor representation of the actual data, and the power law exponents tend to fall outside the theoretical range. These problems are likely caused by viscoelasticity, the effects of which have only been studied recently. Advancement of nanoindentation testing toward quantitative characterization of polymer properties will require material-independent calibration procedures, polymer reference materials, advances in instrumentation, and new testing and analysis procedures that account for viscoelastic and viscoplastic polymer behavior.