Identification of the cause of failure is a required for the improvement of existing products and the development of next-generation products. Analyses of product failure modes allow engineers to understand the impact of designs and process parameters on the reliability of the device.
Oftentimes failure is mechanical in nature, caused by intrinsic or externally applied stresses acting on the material. Design deficiencies, improper material selection, and manufacturing defects can lead to common sources of mechanical failure, such as fracture, creep, wear and fatigue.
Nanomechanical testing encompasses a powerful set of techniques to quantitatively measure the localized mechanical, tribological, and interfacial properties of materials. Nanoindentation is a highly localized testing technique that provides quantitative modulus, hardness, creep, stress relaxation, and fracture toughness measurements to be performed on small volumes of material. The high spatial resolution and mechanical property mapping capabilities of nanoindentation allow the technique to identify mechanical property gradients were the failure likely occurred. Additionally, nanoscale scratch testing provides the ability to measure localized friction and wear properties as well as thin film interfacial adhesion characterization.