High Precision Geometry Characterization of Berkovich Diamond Nanoindenter Tips using Atomic Force Microscope

Tosca 400, a premium atomic force microscope designed for scientific and industrial use, has been applied to precisely characterize the equivalent tip radius and the contact area of a Berkovich diamond indentation tip.


Nanoindentation has been widely used to study the mechanical properties of small volumes of materials including hardness and elastic modulus. Different commercial indenter tips geometries such as Berkovich or Vicker are used to carry out the measurements. Since even diamond tips can wear over time after numerous indentation cycles, the tip geometry has a direct impact on the accuracy of measurement at small indentation depths in the range of a few tens of nanometers. Typically, reference indentation samples such as fused silica can be used to calibrate the indenter shape and possibly reconstruct the tip / area function. However, this method is an indirect way to get the tip area function. Therefore researchers use AFMs to characterize the indenter in order to determine the tip / area function using AFM images and measurements. Here, we use Tosca™ 400, a premium AFM designed for scientific and industrial use, to image a Berkovich diamond nanoindenter tip and characterize its true geometry.


A used Berkovich diamond nanoindenter tip was mounted onto a Tosca™ 400 sample carrier. Figure 1 displays the view of the Tosca™ 400 exclusive side view camera; it shows that the targeting of the indenter tip is very much simplified. An AFM image was acquired at small scale around the apex of the indenter tip to measure the tip area function. Another AFM image was acquired at large scale utilizing the 15 µm z-scan range to get an overview of the indenter tip.

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