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Nano Scratch Tester (NST³)

The most accurate nano scratch tester on the market

The Nano Scratch Tester is especially suited to characterize the practical adhesion failure of thin films and coatings with a typical thickness below 1000 nm. The Nano Scratch Tester can be used in the analysis of organic and inorganic as well as soft and hard coatings. Examples are thin and multilayer PVD, CVD, PECVD, photoresist, paints, lacquers, and many other types of films. The NST³ covers optical, micro-electronic, protective, decorative, and other applications. Substrates can be hard or soft, including metal alloys, semiconductors, glass, refractive, and organic materials.

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Key Features

Fast response time on small forces applied

The Nano Scratch Tester with force sensor incorporates a double cantilever beam for application of the load and a piezoelectric actuator for a fast response on the load applied. This concept also corrects the result for deviations caused by any event occurring during the scratch (e.g. appearance of cracks and failure, defects, or non-flat sample).

Patented true penetration depth measurements for elastic recovery studies

The displacement sensor (Dz) monitors the surface profile of the sample before, during, and after a scratch. This allows you to evaluate the penetration depth of the indenter during and after the scratch: elastic, plastic, and viscoelastic properties of materials can therefore be evaluated (Patent: US 6520004)

No compromises: Apply exactly the force you want to apply in the microNewtons force range

The closed active force feedback loop is a feature for even more accurate nano scratch testing below 1 μN. The Nano Scratch Tester incorporates a sensor for force measurement that directly feeds back to the normal force actuator. This ensures that the force applied is actually the force that was set by the user.

High-quality optical imaging with “Follow Focus”

Our integrated microscope consists of a turret with high-quality objectives and a USB video camera. When imaging a scratch, the ease in changing from a magnification of x200 to x4000 allows better evaluation of samples with both low and high magnification. The “Follow Focus” function allows automatic focus to the right position with the Z-table for multiple scratches.

Multi-post-scan mode to measure the viscous behavior after a scratch

After a scratch, you can define unlimited post-scan measurements in the software with a delta in time to measure the residual depth. This new analysis will give you additional understanding of the deformation behavior of your surface versus the recovery time.

Typical applications

  • Polymers: thin films and/or surface characterization (mar resistance)
  • Oxide coatings on thin-film polymer substrates
  • Mechanical properties of ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) films
  • Hard coatings (PVD, CVD coatings): Thickness range less than 1 micron
  • Wafers: Thickness range from 10 nm to 500 nm
  • Optical and glass: thin films and/or surface characterization (scratch resistance)
  • Physical characterization of coated surfaces

Technical Specifications

Applied load
Resolution 0.01 μN
Max. load 1000 mN
Noise floor 0.1 [rms] [μN]*
Friction force
Resolution 0.3 μN
Max. friction force 1000 mN
Resolution 0.3 nm
Max. depth 600 μm
Noise floor 1.5 [rms] [nm]*
Speed From 0.4 mm/min to 600 mm/min

*Noise floor value specified under ideal laboratory conditions and using an anti-vibration table.


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