MFP Instrumented Nanoindenter from Asylum Research

Asylum’s MFP Nanoindenter is a true instrumented indenter and is the first AFM-based indenter that does not use cantilevers as part of the indenting mechanism. These characteristics and the use of state-of-the-art AFM sensors provide substantial advantages in accuracy, precision and sensitivity over other nanoindenting systems.

Overview and Advantages

Unlike cantilever indenters, the MFP Nanoindenter (Figure 1) moves the indenting tip perpendicular to the surface. This vertical motion avoids the lateral movement and errors that are inherent in cantilever-based systems. Compared to conventional commercially-available instrumented nanoindenters, the MFP Nanoindenter provides lower detection limits and higher resolution measurements of force and indentation depth with the superior precision of AFM sensing technology.

The indenter is completely integrated with the AFM, providing the unique ability to quantify contact areas by performing AFM metrology of both the indenting tip and the resulting indentation (Figure 2). These direct measurements enable analysis of material properties with unprecedented accuracy relative to indirect calculation methods. The design uses passive actuation through a monolithic flexure, minimizing drift and other errors in depth measurement.

The positioning accuracy in the sample plane is subnanometer using the MFP’s closed loop nanopositioning sensors. The NanoIndenter Head utilizes advanced diffraction-limited optics coupled with CCD image capture for precision navigation of the tip to areas of interest on the sample.

The integrated software provides a full complement of experimental control and analysis functions, including standard analysis method templates. The system kit includes a set of nanoindenting tips, three different sample mounts, two calibration standards for sensitivity and spring constant verification, as well as the tools and accessories necessary to perform indenting experiments on a full range of materials. This highly quantitative tool, combined with high-end AFM capabilities, breaks new ground in the characterization of diverse materials including thin films, coatings, polymers, biomaterials, and many others. The MFP Nanoindenter Module is available in standard (spring constant typ. 4,000N/m) and low force (spring constant typ. 800N/m) versions exclusively for the Asylum MFP-3D™ AFM.

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