Micro Materials CORE Range: Nanoindentation

The CORE nanoindentation system is a dedicated nanoindenter that uses capacitive depth measurement and electromagnetic force application to measure the plastic and elastic properties of materials on the nanometre scale.

The system combines a broad force range (1 µN - 500 mN) with superior resolution and high thermal stability to accurately measure mechanical properties and generate comprehensive property maps across surface and depth-profiles.

The CORE nanoindentation system complies with all global standards for nanoindentation - ISO14577 and ASTM E-2546.


The main features of the CORE nanoindentation system are as follows:

  • Accurate positioning of indentations
  • Test over a broad load range - 10 µN – 500 mN
  • Test “coating-only” properties with ISO compliant techniques
  • Test properties as a function of depth
  • Grid mapping of properties across surfaces
  • High stability for longer duration tests such as creep measurements

Wide force range

280 µN force used to make 25 nm indentations in a 500 nm thick soft Diamond-like carbon coating

300 mN required to observe pop-in on C-axis sapphire single crystal when indented with a R = 5 µm diamond

Accurate positioning and nanomechanical property mapping

Three axis stage control and in-built digital microscope display enable accurate indentation placement. This can be used to target particular phases as in the example illustrated:

Indent placement in cast iron

400 indentations across the surface of Ti6Al4V alloy reveal microstructure-modulus property correlations which help explain variations in nano-scale wear resistance for this alloy.

Rapid Depth Profiling

Rapid multi-cycle load-partial unload tests enable comprehensive information of the depth-dependence of elastic modulus and hardness. Particularly useful for analyzing:

  • Indentation size effects
  • Multilayer coatings
  • Mechanical property gradients in surface engineered and graded materials

Rapid depth profiling of hardness and reduced modulus on a nanocomposite TiSiN thin film deposited on Silicon

ISO Compliance

The CORE software iincludes ISO compliant data analysis protocols, which allow reliable and reproducible measurement of materials. These routines are designed to reduce operator influence on end results.

In the above example the coating was 1100 nm thick. Due to the large elastic modulus mismatch between the coating and silicon substrate assigning the modulus measured at a depth of 1/10 of the coating thickness as the coating modulus is inaccurate as it significantly underestimates the true value. ISO 14577 (4) provides a better approach. The built in analysis software allows extrapolation from low depth modulus data for determining “coating only modulus” as defined in ISO 14577.

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