Nanoindentation is one of the most widespread methods to measure the mechanical performance of complex materials systems. As it allows for local characterization of composite architectures with sub-micron spatial features and a large range of properties, nanoindentation is commonly used to measure the properties of biological materials. In situ nanoindentation, a further development of the approach, is a powerful tool for the analysis of plastic deformation and failure of materials. Here, samples can be mechanically manipulated using the indenter, while their behavior is monitored with the resolution of a scanning electron microscope (SEM). Indeed, numerous studies demonstrate the potential of this approach for studying the most fundamental material characteristics. However, so far, these measurements are performed in high-vacuum conditions inherent to the conventional electron microscopy method, which are irrelevant when studying biological structures that evolved to perform in hydrated conditions. In this work, the ability to conduct nanoindentation experiments under controlled humidity and temperature inside an environmental SEM is developed. This technique has the potential to become crucial for materials design and characterization in many domains where humidity has a significant impact on performance. These include organic/polymer systems, microelectronic and optoelectronic devices, materials for catalysis, batteries, and many more.
- in situ
- scanning electron microscopy (SEM)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering