3D AFM images of scratches on sample 1 (a) and sample 2 (b) at a scan size of 25µm x 25µm.
3D AFM images of scratches on sample 1 (a) and sample 2 (b) at a scan size of 25µm x 25µm.

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New thin films and coatings are being deployed in a wide variety of applications for semiconductors, displays, solar panels and LEDs, to name just a few. While bulk material properties can be determined using any number of established techniques, measuring material properties of thin films in-situ requires instrumented analysis. Latest advances in nano and micro tribology have led to the development of integrated instrumentation utilizing simultaneous measurements of normal load, friction force, contact acoustic emission and electrical resistance. Instruments with this advanced functionality can perform common mechanical tests, such as indentation, scratch, and reciprocating wear, while on the same platform to enable very sensitive detailed imaging of the coatings through integrated atomic-force microscopy or optical microscopy. This note discusses how the use of this instrumentation in the study of mechanical properties of thin films and coatings has resulted in a number of interesting applications.

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