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Physical/Mechanical Properties


The Hysitron TI 900 TriboIndenter conducts quantitative nanomechanical analyses, including nanoindentation, scratch, and wear testing. In-situ Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM) can also be done with the TI 900. High resolution optics allow for visual confirmation of testing. The software allows for automation routines, enhancing productivity and statistical sampling.A thermal and acoustic isolation enclosure enhance the stability of the instrument.      

  • Load Resolution: <1 nN     
  • Displacement Resolution: 0.0004 nN     
  • Common Uses: Microelectromechanical Devices (MEMS), Thin Films, Polymers, Composites, Nanomaterials     
  • Strengths: Nanomechanical properties, Imaging of test site using high resolution digital optics     
  • Constraints: Sample size limitations – usually a dime sized sample


Tensile Testing (Instron)

The Instron 5969 electromechanical testing system provide mechanical properties testing for materials. The system is equipped with 1 kN and 50 kN load cells and a 50 mm static clip-on extensometer. The system provides a single platform to conduct tensile, compression, flexure, shear, peel, tear and bend tests. The system includes manual wedge grips, pneumatic grips, compression platens, wire capstans, as well as a 3-point and 4-point flexure mount. A USB camera is integrated within the software to capture video of the test being conducted.     

  • Common Uses: Stress-strain characterization for metallic, polymer and composite materials, Peal and shear testing of adhesives,     
  • Strengths: Multiple testing modes with greater than four orders of magnitude of load range, Bluehill 3 software provides sophisticated automation and analysis capabilities,     
  • Constraints: Maximum clearance of 16 inches between columns, 50 inch vertical travel, Load range 1 N to 50 kN


Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC)

The GPC (also known as SEC - Size Exclusion Chromatography) utilizes liquid chromatography to separate polymers in solution based on the size of the polymer. The Waters system consists of a single mobile phase Isocratic Pump (Water 1515), a series of GPC columns (Styragel HR3, HR4 and HR5) a single wavelength UV/Vis Detector (Waters 1489) and a Refractive Index Detector (Waters 2414). The GPC, if properly calibrated for a specific sample is quantitative and provides Molecular Weight information in Mn, Mw and Mz as well as determining the polydispersity index (PDI) of the sample.

  • Mobile Phase: Dimethylformamide with 0.01 M LiCl, Other solvents are possible but may require separate columns
  • Calibration: Polystyrene standards: 890 – 2,630,000 Daltons
  • Common Uses:
  • Strengths:
  • Constraints: Columns are solvent specific


Thermal Gravimetric Analysis (TGA)

The TA Instruments Q50 TGA system measures change in mass of a material as a function of time and/or temperature under a controlled atmosphere. The change in mass provides a measure of a material's thermal stability and composition.     

  • Temperature Range: 30° – 1000° C     
  • Pan Type: Platinum     
  • Working Atmospheres: UHP Nitrogen or Air     
  • Mass Sensitivity:     
  • Common Uses:     
  • Strengths:     
  • Constraints: System is a single cell unit – no Autosampler


Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)

The TA Instruments Q20 DSC measures the temperature and heat flows associated with thermal transitions in a materials. The thermal transitions in the material can provide information on properties such as: glass transitions, phase changes, crystallization and oxidation stability. The Q20 has a liquid nitrogen quencher to explore thermal transitions which occur below room temperature.     

  • Temperature Range: -150° – 600° C     
  • Working Atmosphere: UHP Nitrogen or Air     
  • Common Uses:     
  • Strengths:     
  • Constraints:

LN2 Quencher cooler for lower temperature work does not allow for measurements needing a controlled cooling cycle.
Heat-Cool-Heat cycles need to be manually controlled.
Cannot be taken above the vaporization point of the material



The TA Instruments DHR-2 Rheometer system provides a measure of the flow characteristics of a liquid, suspension or slurry under shear conditions. A range of shear stresses, strains, and strain rates can be applied in either steady shear or oscillatory shear mode based on selection from 3 available geometries. A single Peltier plate allows for temperature control experiments or temperature profiles of a sample.

  • Temperature Range: -40 to 200C
  • Available geometries: Cone and plate (2 degree 40 mm upper cone), parallel plates (20 mm), parallel plates (40 mm)
  • Common Uses: Viscosity of Newtonian fluids; shea rrate-dependent viscosity measurements of non-Newtonian fluids (including polymer solutions and colloidal suspensions); Viscoelastic moduli; temperature profiles
  • Strengths: Can specify strain, strain rate,torque, stress, frequency, or angular velocity, can operate in steady shear or oscillatory shear mode, can conduct temperature profiles using ramp or step modes,can adjust geometries for a wide range of viscosities, analysis software is free and downloadable to any computer
  • Constraints: environmental chamber for polymer melts not currently available


Microhardness Tester

The Wilson Tukon 1202 Microhardness tester provides a measure of the hardness of a material by permanently deforming the sample withan indenter tip under a known test force and measuring the size of the resulting indent. The system is equipped with both Vickers and Knoop indenter geometries and 5x, 10x, 50x optics for filar line measurement of the resulting indent. Hardness is determined in either the HV or HK scale, with fixed test loads of 10 – 1000 grams.

  • Common Uses: Hardness testing of small metallic parts, sheet metal, metal foils, electrical wire, thin hardened layers, galvanized coatings, glass, ball bearings, etc. Fracture toughness measurements of brittle components.
  • Strengths: Fast, reproducible assessment of sample mechanical properties on the local (10 – 100 µm) scale.
  • Constraints: Permanently deforms sample,requires a smooth surface for accurate length determinations, thin films need to be 10x depth of indent


Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) & Zeta Potential

The Mobius uses light scattering to determine particle size and electrophoretic mobility simultaneously. It determines particle/molecule diameter within a range of 0.5 nm to 10 um as well as the size distribution of molecules in solution or particles in suspension using dynamic light scattering (DLS). It also measures electrophoretic mobility and calculates zeta potential.

  • Temperature Range: 20 – 85 C
  • Particle/Molecular Size Range: 0.5 nm to 10 microns in diameter
  • Common uses: Characterization of size and size distribution for polymers and particles in water or PEEK-compatible organic solvents. Characterization of electrophoretic mobility and zeta potential to compare charge of polymers and particles.
  • Strengths: Size and zeta potential are determined simultaneously. The Atlas accessory enables characterization of high salt concentration aqueous solutions. The 532 nm laser enables characterization of particles or polymers down to 0.5 nm diameter. Data acquisition takes seconds, and all data is easily accessed and worked up. Temperature scans from 20 – 85 C can be programmed and automated.
  • Constraints: Organic solvents must be compatible with PEEK. Particle or polymer mixtures can only be resolved if there is a factor of 5 difference between average diameters.
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