Elevated temperature, nano-mechanical testing in situ in the scanning electron microscope

Wheeler, J. M.; Michler, J.

Review of Scientific Instruments 84 (2013)

A general nano-mechanical test platform capable of performing variable temperature and variable strain rate testing in situ in the scanning electron microscope is described. A variety of test geometries are possible in combination with focused ion beam machining or other fabrication techniques: indentation, micro-compression, cantilever bending, and scratch testing. The system is intrinsically displacement-controlled, which allows it to function directly as a micro-scale thermomechanical test frame. Stable, elevated temperature indentationmicro-compression requires the indenter tip and the sample to be in thermal equilibrium to prevent thermal displacement drift due to thermal expansion. This is achieved through independent heating and temperature monitoring of both the indenter tip and sample. Furthermore, the apex temperature of the indenter tip is calibrated, which allows it to act as a referenced surface temperature probe during contact. A full description of the system is provided, and the effects of indenter geometry and of radiation on imaging conditions are discussed. The stabilization time and temperature distribution throughout the system as a function of temperature is characterized. The advantages of temperature monitoring and thermal calibration of the indenter tip are illustrated, which include the possibility of local thermal conductivity measurement. Finally, validation results using nanoindentation on fused silica and micro-compression of 100 silicon micro-pillars as a function of temperature up to 500 °C are presented, and procedures and considerations taken for these measurements are discussed. A brittle to ductile transition from fracture to splitting then plastic deformation is directly observed in the SEM for silicon as a function of temperature. © 2013 American Institute of Physics.