Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Materials Science and Engineering


Jaroslaw Wieslaw Drelich


Testing a new method of nanoindentation using the atomic force microscope (AFM) was the purpose of this research. Nanoindentation is a useful technique to study the properties of materials on the sub-micron scale. The AFM has been used as a nanoindenter previously; however several parameters needed to obtain accurate results, including tip radius and cantilever sensitivity, can be difficult to determine. To solve this problem, a new method to determine the elastic modulus of a material using the atomic force microscope (AFM) has been proposed by Tang et al. This method models the cantilever and the sample as two springs in a series. The ratio of the cantilever spring constant (k) to diameter of the tip (2a) is treated in the model as one parameter (α=k/2a). The value of a, along with the cantilever sensitivity, are determined on two reference samples with known mechanical properties and then used to find the elastic modulus of an unknown sample. To determine the reliability and accuracy of this technique, it was tested on several polymers. Traditional depth-sensing nanoindentation was preformed for comparison. The elastic modulus values from the AFM were shown to be statistically similar to the nanoindenter results for three of the five samples tested.