Mechanical testing is used to determine properties such as hardness, modulus, fracture toughness or yield strength. Bulk samples typically are examined using uniaxial compression and tensile testing to acquire elastic modulus data. Hardness test methods use an indenter probe that is displaced into a surface under a specific load. In traditional testing, the size or depth of indentation is measured to determine hardness. Microhardness testing is an industry standard for quality and process control for hardness data. Microhardness testing, with applied loads under 10 N, is typically used for smaller samples, thin specimens, plated surfaces or coatings.
Nanoindentation has advantages over traditional mechanical testing, providing both elastic modulus and hardness data. Integrated indentation testing (IIT) automates the indentation process so hundreds of tests can be performed on a small sample size. Some material composites and devices are too complex to apply traditional test methods. As dimensions shrink, mechanical properties change as the scale changes from bulk to micron to nanometer. And a nanoindenter is often more accommodating with respect to sample geometry.
Common tensile test method for bulk materials
Vickers and Knoop microhardness test methods
Basics of nanoindentation
Determined by fundamental data of load, distance, area and time