Room 105d NPIC

Hysitron Premier TI Nanoindenter


Nanoindentation is an advanced, high precision and high resolution technique to obtain in a small volume the basic mechanical parameters for a material: Young’s modulus and hardness. During a nanoindentation test a hard tip with known mechanical properties (diamond) is pressed into a sample whose properties are unknown. The load placed on the indenter tip is increased as the tip penetrates deeper into the specimen until it reaches a user-defined depth or load. At this point, the load may be held constant for a period of time or removed (load – unload cycle). The load versus displacement into the sample graph is recorded and is then used to extract the Young’s modulus and hardness.

Nanoindentation has definite advantages versus the traditional macro- and micro-indentation tests that require measurement of the shape and area of the imprint of the macro tip, left on the sample. The indentation is performed in the nano- to micro scale range of loads using micron size tips, providing high spatial resolution when indenting, and providing real-time load-displacement curves data while the indentation is in progress. The indentation area may only be a few square micrometers or nanometers. In order to have accurate determination of the tip area necessary for hardness calculation, indenters with a geometry known to high precision (usually a Berkovich tip, which has three-sided pyramid geometry) are employed.

  • Young’s modulus

The slope of the curve, upon unloading is indicative of the stiffness of the contact. This value generally includes a contribution from both the material being tested and the response of the test indenting tip itself. The stiffness of the contact can be used to calculate the reduced Young's modulus

  • Hardness

There are two different types of hardness that can be obtained from a nanoindentation measurement: one is the same as in traditional macro indentation tests where a single hardness value per experiment is obtained; the other is obtained continuously as the material is being indented resulting in hardness as a function of depth.


Nanoindentation: Characterization of organic, inorganic, soft or hard materials and coatings, thin and multilayer films, photoresists, paints and coatings, pharmaceuticals, consumer products, metals and metal oxides, electronic/solar/semiconductor materials, polymers, glasses, ceramics, composites, biomaterials (bone, tooth), textile/leather/paper, etc.

Nanoscratch: Protective coatings (DLC, TiC, TiN), disk drives, glass, tribological coatings, paints, biological/biomedical implantable devices, cartilage/tissue, contact lenses, friction analysis, lubrication layers, reciprocating wear/scratch


  • TriboScanner: Piezoelectric X-Y-Z scanner, dovetail mechanical connectors, pre-calibrated
  • In-situ SPM Imaging: precise indenter tip placement; nanometer resolution SPM imaging; pre- and post-imaging of indents and scratches; adjustable gain control; variable scan rate; topographical imaging
  • Motorized X-Y and Z stages: rigid cross roller bearing construction; travel X-Y 150mm x 50mm; Z stage travel: 50mm; dimensionally stable granite platform and bridge; custom stage control system; magnetic sample holder with four positions
  • Alignment optics with color imaging: 0.5x to 11x digital zoom; 10x objective; color CCD camera; maximum field of view 3200x2400 μm; minimum field of view 145x109 μm
  • 2D High Resolution Indenter/Scratch Head Assembly
    • Patented 3-plate capacitive transducer; measurement of normal force and displacement for nanoindentation testing; electrostatic force actuation/capacitive displacement sensor
    • Normal Displacement: displacement resolution <0.006nm; total indenter travel in vertical direction ~50mm; maximum indentation depth 5μm; thermal drift 0.05nm/s
    • Normal Load: maximum load 10mN; load resolution <1 nN; minimum contact force <70nN; maximum load rate >50mN/s
    • Lateral Displacement: displacement resolution <0.02nm; maximum displacement 15μm; minimum lateral displacement 500nm; thermal drift 0.05nm/s;
    • Lateral load: maximum load 2mN; load resolution <50nN
  • nanoDMA III
    • Universally applicable dynamic stiffness measurement technique for the thorough nanoscale characterization of all materials, from ultra-soft hydrogels to hard coatings;
    • Newly developed CMX algorithms, providing a truly Continuous Measurement of X (X = hardness, storage modulus, loss modulus, complex modulus, tan-delta, etc.) as a function of contact depth, frequency, and time; frequency range 0.1Hz-300Hz; maximum dynamic force amplitude 5mN; maximum quasi-static force 10mN; maximum dynamic displacement amplitude 2.5μm; maximum quasi-static displacement 5μm
  • Multi-Range Nanoprobe (High Load)
    • High load depth-sensing indentation head; user specified maximum load range up to 500 mN; maximum normal displacement 80μm; nanoDMA III capacitive transducer for enhanced dynamic characteristics and dynamic testing range (0.1Hz to 100Hz)
  • Passive Vibration Isolation
    • Negative stiffness technology, ½ Hz natural frequency
  • Environmental Enclosure
    • Custom engineered, multi-layered for acoustic, air current and thermal isolation
  • TriboScan 9 Software: fully definable load function editor, unattended operation after initial setup
  • Data acquisition: measurement of normal force and displacement, measurement of lateral force and displacement, automated routines for high throughput testing,
  • Data analysis: automatic curve fitting routine for calculations of tip area functions (calibration), multiple file analysis with export of calculated data to text files, automatic comparison of hardness vs. depth plots from multiple samples