Several challenges exist when designing an in-situ mechanical testing assembly compatible with synchrotron beamlines. The assembly must be light weight as it must often be mounted on top of several motion stages. Also, the weight of the load frame must be distributed as symmetrically as possible about the rotational axis. In addition, the assembly must be sufficiently open to allow unrestricted passage of the X-ray beam.
The Alemnis Standard Assembly (ASA) fulfills all the aforementioned requirements for compatibility: it is lightweight yet rigid, axisymmetric about the rotational axis and has a very open architecture which is more than enough for experiments in static beamlines. For specific angles, or for full rotational tomography, the side-frame elements can be replaced with an X-ray transparent material (e.g., Polyether ether ketone, or PEEK).
Alemnis Standard Assembly (ASA) mounted in various configurations on synchrotron X-ray beamlines. (Photos courtesy of S. Kalbfleisch, MAX IV Laboratory, Lund, Sweden, and X. Mäder and A. Groetsch, Empa, Thun, Switzerland)
The ASA can also be mounted together with an Integrated Microscope (IMI) which is an optical microscope with integrated illumination and allows a repositioning accuracy between the indenter and the focus point of 10 µm. Ccombining nanoindentation with X-ray diffraction (XRD) in a synchrotron beamline allows the study of many material properties. For example, a common experiment is to place the sample under a certain constant stress (usually achieved by holding the applied load over several hours) and map the induced elastic strain field in the deformation zone. Such studies can pave the way for studying strain profiles using synchrotron radiation during micromechanical testing of small volumes. In this way, the nanostructural origin of the observed strain evolution can be understood and correlated with the conditions of deformation.
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