Testing Nano-Mechanical Properties of Composites and Coatings for the Aerospace Industry using the NanoTest System - Micro Materials

Topics Covered

Micro Materials NanoTest System
NanoTest Ideal for a Range of Applications in the Aerospace Sector
Customer Case Study: Cranfield University
Customer Case Study: University of Bordeaux


Micro Materials Ltd are based in Wrexham, UK, which is located approximately one hour from the cities of Manchester and Liverpool.

Micro Materials provide innovative, versatile nanomechanical test instrumentation, and respond to developments in applications in response to customer and market requirements. The integrity, reliability and accuracy of our equipment is paramount, as is our relationship with our users.

Micro Materials NanoTest System

The MML NanoTest(TM) system is a fully flexible nano-mechanical property measurement system, offering a complete range of nanomechanical and nanotribological tests, including nanoindentation, nano-scratch and wear, nano-impact and fatigue, elevated temperature nanoindentation and indentation in fluids.

Amongst other parameters, the NanoTest(TM) is capable of measuring hardness, modulus, toughness, adhesion and many other properties of thin films and other surfaces or solids.

NanoTest Ideal for a Range of Applications in the Aerospace Sector

The unique high temperature capability of the NanoTest system has opened up a wide variety of applications in the aerospace sector including interconnect technology and turbine improvement with thermal barrier coatings.

The following case studies from Cranfield University and The University of Bordeaux demonstrate work being carried out in this sector.

Customer Case Study: Cranfield University

At Cranfield University, John Nicholls and co-workers have been using elevated temperature nanoindentation to investigate the mechanical properties of advanced thermal barrier coatings (TBCs) for turbine engines. EB-deposited YSZ coatings are not at all "nano" in terms of their thickness, but are rather heterogeneous and columnar. Prof Nicholls and his team realised that the individual erosive events occurring during use were on the scale of the individual columns and so it was necessary to probe their properties by small scale testing rather than bulk measurements.

The variation in the TBC hardness and modulus with temperature is shown in the table below. To avoid probe oxidation over 500¢FXC a sapphire indenter was used.



Room Temperature

5.8 ± 1.04 GPa

157.1 ± 12.8 GPa


4.2 ± 0.7 GPa

123.2 ± 14.7 GPa


2.9 ± 0.5 GPa

102.2 ± 15.1 GPa

Customer Case Study: University of Bordeaux

At the Laboratory for Thermostructural Composites (LCTS), Bordeaux, Dr Stephane Jouannigot and his team have been using their NanoTest to investigate the influence of modifying the fibre surface chemistry on the fibre-matrix bond strength in C/C composites for structural aerospace applications. With the accurate positioning and by using a flat-ended indenter to push out the fibres Dr Jouannigot has been able to show marked influence of different fibre pre-treatments on bond strength.

About Micro Materials

Established in 1988, Micro Materials Ltd are manufacturers of the innovative NanoTest system, which offers unique nanomechanical test capability to materials researchers for the characterisation and optimisation of thin films, coatings and bulk materials. The current model, the NanoTest Vantage was launched on June 1st 2011.

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