New four-in-one tribological probe microscope measures friction, hardness, elasticity, and shape to levels less than a nanometre

November 05, 2001

It is increasingly important for manufacturers of high tech materials and coatings to understand exactly what is going on at the surface of their products right down to the nanometre level. It has been possible to get individual measurements of friction, hardness, elasticity, and surface shape but until now it has not been so easy to get all four measurements and exactly correlate those measurements against each other. Now a researcher at the University of Warwick's Centre for Nanotechnology and Microengineering has designed a device - a multi-function Tribological Probe Microscope (TPM) - that solves that problem. Dr Ping Liu's Tribological Probe Microscope is able, in one pass, to measure an area of 100„e100 ƒÝm (micrometres) of surface and give an accurate measurement of the surface topography (shape), friction, Young¡¦s modulus (surface elasticity), and hardness. These four simultaneous surface measurements can then be accurately correlated in space and in time.

The device uses a diamond tip (Berkovich tip with a 100nm ¡V nanometre - radius) mounted on a silica rod a few millimetres long, fixed on a thin beryllium/Copper (Cu/Be) foil acting as a flexible spring. On the other side of the beam, is attached a small permanent magnet, surrounded by a coil. The force with which the tip contacts the sample surface is controlled by passing a current in this coil, which delivers a constant force in a range of 0.01- 30mN (millinewtons). The tip slides along the sample measuring the shape or topography of the sample surface down to a resolution of 0.1nm (nanometres). At the same time the friction of the surface causes the probe tip to tilt and by measuring the amount of tilt the device is able to get a measure of the surface's friction properties. Finally as the tip exerts a downward force the probe records the depth of penetration of the probe as a measure of the surface hardness at that point. It then records how far the depressed surface recovers to its original shape after the applied force has been removed as a measure of the surface's elasticity.

Dr Liu received a commendation for her work on this device at the "Metrology for World Class Manufacturing Awards" last month.
For further information please contact:

Dr Ping Liu, Dept of Engineering Centre for Nanotechnology and Microengineering University of Warwick: Tel: 024-7652-3136


University of Warwick

Related Force Articles from Brightsurf:

May the force be with you: Detecting ultrafast light by its force
A McGill research team has developed a new technique to detect nano-sized imperfections in materials.

Developing new techniques to improve atomic force microscopy
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a new method to improve the noise associated with nanoscale chemical imaging using atomic force microscopy.

Police training reduced complaints and use of force against civilians
A Northwestern University evaluation of a procedural justice training program involving more than 8,000 Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers shows it reduced complaints filed against police by approximately 10%.

The force is strong in neutron stars
Physicists at MIT and elsewhere have for the first time characterized the strong nuclear force, and the interactions between protons and neutrons, at extremely short distances.

Discovering a new fundamental underwater force
A team of mathematicians from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Brown University has discovered a new phenomenon that generates a fluidic force capable of moving and binding particles immersed in density-layered fluids.

Mechanical force as a new way of starting chemical reactions
Researchers have shown mechanical force can start chemical reactions, making them cheaper, more broadly applicable, and more environmentally friendly than conventional methods.

Magnetic skin ensures the force is with you
A magnetic skin that is safe and comfortable to wear could open the door to a wide range of wireless, remotely controlled applications.

A new force for optical tweezers awakens
When studying biological cells using optical tweezers, one main issue is the damage caused to the cell by the tool.

Converting biomass by applying mechanical force
German nanoscientists have succeeded in demonstrating a new reaction mechanism to cleave cellulose efficiently.

Elucidating cellular responses to force
Accumulated evidence suggests that physical force plays an important role in various developmental processes of fertilized animal eggs.

Read More: Force News and Force Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to