Aug 24, 2011
AFM-SEM combination records mechanical behaviour of nanofibres
Investigating the mechanical properties of individual fibres is an important step in the development and characterization of composite materials, but it can present challenges, particularly when the diameter of the fibre approaches 100 nm or less. To overcome these difficulties, researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, UK, and collaborators at attocube systems AG have combined atomic force microscopy (AFM) with scanning electron microscopy (SEM).
The work brings together the force measuring and manipulation power of AFM with SEM, the tool of choice for observing nanomaterials, to grab single nanofibres and then tensile test to failure while observing in real time.
Using the set-up, the team was able to apply forces and record the deformation behaviour of individual nanofibres obtained from both natural sources and synthetically manufactured (electrospun) material.
A range of mechanical performances were observed in the nanofibres. What’s more, the AFM-SEM set-up was able to record this mechanical response in the nanofibres’ natural hydrated state.
While this study focused on nanofibres, the experimental method is flexible enough to mechanically test a wide range of nanomaterials of different geometries.
More information can be found in the journal Nanotechnology.
About the author
Mr Fei Hang is a PhD candidate in the School of Engineering & Materials Science and a researcher at the NanoVision Centre, Queen Mary, University of London, UK, under the supervision of Asa H. Barber, PhD. His research focuses on the structure-property relationships in biological materials and biomimetic equivalents.