Scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) have become a ubiquitous tool for imaging materials at a scale far beyond what can be achieved with an optical microscope. These instruments can be found in nearly every central laboratory and provide a versatile tool for imaging a wide range of materials, often with minimal sample prep required. Secondary electron imaging provides a straightforward method for acquiring high resolution micrographs of the sample surface, nanoscale structures, or small variations in surface morphology. When combined with nanomechanical testing, the SEM provides a powerful platform for identifying and measuring the strength of various low dimensional materials while observing their deformation in real-time.
Bruker's Hysitron PI 85L SEM PicoIndenter and Hysitron PI 88 SEM PicoIndenter instruments provide an array of options for in-situ nanomechanical testing, and give reliable, quantitative force and displacement data for mechanical testing on a wide range of materials. Both systems offer standard nanoindentation testing for the determination of hardness and reduced modulus as well as additional mechanical testing modes such as particle/pillar compression, beam/cantilever bending, and tensile testing. As an optional upgrade, the Hysitron PI 88 also features a unique sample tilt and rotation stage for seamlessly combining mechanical testing with various other capabilities of the SEM, such as additional detectors (EBSD, EDS, etc.) or focused ion beam (FIB) milling.