The scientists grew oriented tin oxide NWs on rutile substrates and probed the material with an atomic force microscope (AFM) to determine the sample's elastic properties. To keep track of the geometrical arrangement of the NW–tip interaction, the position of the AFM probe was monitored by a coupled scanning electron microscope.

The elastic properties of the single crystalline SnO2 nanowires were investigated in a two point-geometry as shown above. The corresponding Young's modulus was estimated by bending individual NWs and measuring the force exerted on the AFM tip during force-displacement measurements. For the NWs investigated (radial dimensions below 45 nm and length up to 1.2 µm), the researchers found an average value of 100±20 GPa, which is consistent with the indentation modulus of nanobelts. In addition, the group discussed the effects of the nanowire-cantilever configuration on the measured elastic modulus.