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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Nanomechanical testing of freestanding polymer films: in situ tensile testing and T g measurement


Abstract: A method for small-scale testing and imaging of freestanding, microtomed polymer films using a push-to-pull device is presented. Central to this method was the development of a sample preparation technique which utilized solvents at cryogenic temperatures to transfer and deposit delicate thin films onto the microfabricated push-to-pull devices. The preparation of focused ion beam (FIB)-milled tensile specimens enabled quantitative in situ TEM tensile testing, but artifacts associated with ion and electron beam irradiation motivated the development of a FIB-free specimen preparation method. The FIB-free method was enabled by the design and fabrication of oversized strain-locking push-to-pull devices. An adaptation for push-to-pull devices to be compatible with an instrumented nanoindenter expanded the testing capabilities to include in situ heating. These innovations provided quantitative mechanical testing, postmortem TEM imaging, and the ability to measure the glass transition temperature, via dynamic mechanical analysis, of freestanding polymer films. Results for each of these mentioned characterization methods are presented and discussed in terms of polymer nanomechanics. Graphic Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

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