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The TriboIndenter produced by Hysitron Inc. allows for mechanical and tribological materials-characterization on the nano-scale. Based on a transducer-system in combination with a feed-back-control it is possible to press diamond-probes of various well-defined geometries (Berkovich, cube-corner, conical and flat-punch) in either a load- or displacement controlled manner into the sample of interest (maximum load 10 mN, load resolution < 1nN, noise floor (load) 100 nN, displacement resolution 0.0002 nm, noise floor (displacement) 0.2 nm, and drift < 0.05 nm/sec). It is possible to position the tip with a lateral accuracy of about 10 nm. The system monitors complete loading/unloading cycles (force-displacement-curves) which can be analyzed to deduce the mechanical properties of the sample. Tests are carried out either quasi-static or, by adding a small sinusoidal load component, dynamic (nanoDMA). nanoDMA results in dynamic mechanical properties such as storage- and loss-modulus of the sample. The test setup is able to cover a frequency-range between 5 and 300 Hz at room temperature.

A second transducer system arranged perpendicular with respect to the indenting one enables the TriboIndenter to conduct a broad variety of tribological test procedures. In principle it is feasible to carry out any loading protocol that consists of linear loading steps along a line on the sample surface, e.g. scratch-tests, oscillating wear tests and many more. The ability to scan the surface topography in a SPM-like manner opens up the door to another kind of tribological testing: area wear testing.

All test procedures can be completely automated and the system is able to execute complex scripts containing several samples and test methods. The TriboIndenter is used in the context of all thin-films and composites as well as nanostructures produced at our institute.