The Nanomechanical Testing Platform addresses the fundamental understanding of the properties of materials at the nanometer length scale. The system includes the Hysitron TriboIndenter as a stand-alone, nanomechanical test instrument that utilizes a fully integrated indenter head and atomic force microscope (AFM) combination. Other accessories integrated with the Triboindenter to support many different nanomechanical characterization techniques for a variety of applications include nanoDMA and modulus mapping module for investigating time dependent properties of materials using a dynamic testing technique; TriboAE module to monitor fracture, delamination and phase transformations that occur under nanoscale contacts using the acoustic waves emitted during the phenomena; Feedback Control Module will allow to operate in closed loop load or displacement control for testing during creep or stress relaxation; Thermal Control Heating/Cooling Stage and a Vacuum Chuck. Nano-mechanical testing in conjunction with nano-scale surface imaging is a powerful way to analyze extremely small volumes of materials or surfaces with a very high resolution. The University of Missouri Columbia has identified Nano-science and Nano-devices as a major research thrust area. Intellectual merit: With these instruments researchers will be able to perform quasi-static testing to study elastic, plastic, and fracture response of both hard and very soft materials during indentation at the nanometer length scale. They will be able to image and quantitatively study surface phenomena such as surface wear by rubbing and scratching. In addition researchers can study time dependent properties of materials over a range of temperatures. It is envisaged that the instrumentation will be used for a wide range of current and future research in areas such as property gradients across composite material interphases and interfaces in welded and joined materials, surface topography in MEMS devices, adhesion and frictional characteristics of electronic devices of micrometer length scale, surface characterization of biological sensors, interfacial properties across layered synthetic and biological materials, mechanical property variations within and across phases in ceramic-polymer composites and investigation of mechanical properties of self-assembled nanostructured materials.
Broader Impact: A significant number of graduate and undergraduate students will be exposed to the usage and application of state-of-the-art instrumentation through classroom instruction and research. This experience should sharpen their understanding of materials behavior. This instrumentation will foster interdisciplinary research. The whole range of proposed instruments will form the proposed Nanomechanical Characterization User Center. It should be emphasized that the user facility will be open to faculty and students of all colleges and the medical school on MU campus. The MU campus has made vigorous efforts to recruit students from regional college programs, including those with predominantly Black and Hispanic enrollment. Our group has established collaborative program with Lincoln University (HBCU). The MU is also committed to the recruitment and retention of minority and female students in Science and Engineering.