We propose a nanoindentation technique based on atomic force microscopy (AFM) that allows one to deduce both indentation modulus and hardness of viscoelastic materials from the force versus penetration depth dependence, obtained by recording the AFM cantilever deflection as a function of the sample vertical displacement when the tip is pressed against (loading phase) and then removed from (unloading phase) the surface of the sample. Reliable quantitative measurements of both indentation modulus and hardness of the investigated sample are obtained by calibrating the technique through a set of different polymeric samples, used as reference materials, whose mechanical properties have been previously determined by standard indentation tests. By analyzing the dependence of the cantilever deflection versus time, the proposed technique allows one to evaluate and correct the effect of viscoelastic properties of the investigated materials, by adapting a post-experiment data processing procedure well-established for standard depth sensing indentation tests. The technique is described in the case of the measurement of indentation modulus and hardness of a thin film of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) doped with poly(4-styrenesulfonate), deposited by chronoamperometry on an indium tin oxide (ITO) substrate.
Passeri, D., E-mail: email@example.com;  Bettucci, A.; Biagioni, A.; Rossi, M.; Alippi, A.;  Tamburri, E.;  Lucci, M.; Davoli, I.;  Berezina, S. 
- Dipartimento di Energetica, Universita di Roma 'La Sapienza', Via A. Scarpa 16, 00161 Roma (Italy)
- Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Chimiche, Universita di Roma 'Tor Vergata', Via della Ricerca Scientifica, 00133 Roma (Italy)
- Dipartimento di Fisica, Universita di Roma 'Tor Vergata', Via della Ricerca Scientifica, 00133 Roma (Italy)
- Department of Physics, University of Zilina, 01026, Univerzitna 1 Zilina (Slovakia)