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Traceable Micro-Force Sensor for Instrumented Indentation Calibration



Douglas T. Smith, Gordon A. Shaw, R M. Seugling, D Xiang, Jon R. Pratt


Instrumented indentation testing (IIT), commonly referred to as nanoindentation when small forces are used, is a popular technique for determining the mechanical properties of small volumes of material. Sample preparation is relatively easy, usually requiring only that a smooth surface of the material to be tested be accessible to a contact probe, and instruments that combine sophisticated automation with straightforward user interfaces are available commercially from several manufacturers. In addition, documentary standards are now becoming available from both the International Standards Organization (ISO 14577) and ASTM International (E28 WK382) that define test methods and standard practices for IIT, and will allow the technique to be used to produce material property data that can be used in product specifications. These standards also define the required level of accuracy of the force data produced by IIT instruments, as well as methods to verify that accuracy. For forces below 10 mN, these requirements can be difficult to meet, particularly for instrument owners who need to verify the performance of their instrument as it is installed at their site. In this paper, we describe the development, performance and application of an SI-traceable force sensor system for potential use in the field calibration of commercial IIT instruments. The force sensor itself, based on an elastically deforming capacitance gauge, is small enough to mount in a commercial instrument as if it were a test specimen, and is used in conjunction with an ultra-high accuracy capacitance bridge. The sensor system is calibrated with NIST-traceable masses over the range 5.0 μN through 5.0 mN. We will present data on its accuracy and precision, as well its potential application to the verification of force in commercial instrumented indentation instruments.
Proceedings Title
2007 Materials Research Society Spring Meeting
Conference Dates
April 10-12, 2007
Conference Location
San Francisco, CA


Smith, D. , Shaw, G. , Seugling, R. , Xiang, D. and Pratt, J. (2007), Traceable Micro-Force Sensor for Instrumented Indentation Calibration, 2007 Materials Research Society Spring Meeting, San Francisco, CA, [online], (Accessed July 24, 2024)


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Created April 10, 2007, Updated February 19, 2017