top of page
mml background


Micro Materials

"NanoTest Vantage System"


Contact Us to Request a NanoTest System Quote

Introducing the New

NanoTest Vantage System

The new NanoTest Vantage system offers a complete range of nano/micro-scale mechanical and tribological tests in one flexible and user friendly instrument. With just one test platform a range of mechanical properties can be investigated, allowing a complete picture of material performance to be assembled.


One of the most ad"Vantage" features of the NanoTest system is its unparalleled capability to Control environmental conditions to assess true ‘in-service’ properties. With up to 950C heating and -100C cooling options, the NanoTest Vantage is the best instrument in the markets that allows researchers to characterise and optimise their materials under a wide range of elevated/cooled temperatures.


The NanoTest is a fully modular system that allows the user to configure the system to meet their individual needs. The system can be expanded at a later date to include further modules, meaning that your system can evolve as your needs/ research interests change. The NanoTest Vantage is designed to maximise output while minimising user time. Scheduling software allows the instrument to run 24/7.


The key techniques of The NanoTest Vantage are listed below:


Anchor 9

The NanoTest Vantage offers a combination of industry-leading instrumental stability with excellent performance over a wide load range.


Compliance to industry standards:  The NanoTest Vantage is fully compliant to all relevant international nanoindentation standards including ISO14577 and ASTM E2546–07.

The NanoTest Vantage uses electromagnetic force application and capacitive depth measurement to measure the elastic and plastic properties of materials on the nano-scale.


  • Indentation testing

  • Hardness and modulus mapping

  • Depth profiling

  • Creep properties

  • Wide load range


Anchor 10

Thin films and coatings (from a few nm to ~1 µm thick) need to be optimised both in the mechanical properties and tribological performance. Typically, this is done with a combination of indentation and scratch tests.


Conventional scratch test conditions are not appropriate for these types of materials as they were developed for testing thicker coatings. Instead the nano-scratch can provide what is needed.

The sample to be tested is moved perpendicular to the scratch probe whilst the contact is either held constant or ramped at a user-defined rate. Throughout the test the probe penetration depth and tangential (frictional) load are continuously monitored. Single and multi-pass tests are possible.  Multi-pass tests allow the investigation of nano-wear and micro-wear.


The Nano-Scratch & Wear module has found many applications in sectors as diverse as optical, microelectronics, polymer/biomaterial, and tribological coatings.  It is available as a stand alone instrument (nano-scratch tester) or as an option for the NanoTest Vantage platform.

Elevated Temperature

Anchor 11

Material properties can vary greatly with changes in temperature. Thus, when developing or characterising materials or coatings which are to be used in high temperature applications, test conditions should mimic in-service conditions as closely as possible.


The NanoTest Vantage hot stage allows (1) Nanoindentation (2) Nano-Scratch & Wear (3) NanoImpact & Fatigue to be performed at temperatures of up to 750 °C.

  • Horizontal Loading – No heat flow into the loading head or depth measurement sensors

  • Isothermal contact – Separate active heating of both probe and sample to ensure no heat flow occurs during the indentation process (UK patent).

  • Highly localised heating – Ensures instrument stability

  • Time-dependent measurements – Possible to perform longer duration tests such as indentation creep tests with low thermal drift rates.

  • Non-ambient gases – Choice of a temperature controlled environmental chamber or a purging chamber that provides a choice of ambient atmospheres and vastly reduces oxidation of samples.


Anchor 12

The NanoTest Vantage system offers high load options to perform micro- to macro-scale instrumented indentation.


Materials commonly tested with our Microindenter (30 N maximum load) include cemented carbides, metals, shape memory alloys and hard coatings. The test capability of the instrument can be expanding beyond depth sensing microindentation.

As well as being a stand alone instrument the microindenter module can be added to the NanoTest platform. This greatly expands the capability of the system to cover both the nano- and micro- ranges. Both loading mechanisms are permanently mounted side-by-side, allowing easy transfer of the sample between both.


  • Microindentation

  • Micro-impact and fatigue

  • These tests can be done at high temperature (max 500°C) in air or in inert environments.

  • The microscope can be used for precise positioning of indentations to target particular features.


Anchor 13

The NanoTest Vantage system offers high load options to perform micro- to macro-scale scratch.


Materials commonly tested with our Microscratch (30 N maximum load) include hard coatings, thick films, ceramic and hard alloy surfaces.

As well as being a stand alone instrument the high load module can be added to the NanoTest platform. This greatly expands the capability of the system to cover both the nano- and micro- ranges of scratch. Both loading mechanisms are permanently mounted side-by-side, allowing easy transfer of the sample between both.


  • Microscratch

  • These tests can be done at high temperature (max 500°C) in air or in inert environments.

  • The microscope can be used for precise positioning of indentations to target particular features.


Anchor 14

Nano-impact testing is particularly suitable for high strain rate contact testing. The strain rates of nano-impact testing are typically 100-1000 s-1, much greater than the nano-indentation strain rates of 0.0001 – 0.01 s-1.


Nano-impact testing was originally designed to assess the toughness and fatigue fracture resistance of thin films and coatings. Nano-impact testing is also able to mimic highly loaded repetitive contact situations.

In laboratory studies there is a high degree of correlation between results of nano-impact tests and the performance of coated systems operating in extreme intermittent contact environment. Repetitive contacts are true impact events. The probe repeatedly leaves the surface of the sample and impacts at the same location every time. A number of parameters can be controlled to vary the severity of the test and its duration including:


  • Probe geometry

  • Acceleration distance

  • Coil force

  • Impact angle

  • Number of cycles

  • Test frequency


Anchor 15

In operation, components in a wide variety of applications undergo vibrational wear. Fretting tests are regularly run on the macro-scale in order to examine material behaviour under these conditions.


The nano-fretting module allows investigation of fretting and reciprocating wear at the micro/nano scale filling the previous metrology gap.

This capability allows examination of the effect of small oscillatory micro-motion on the durability of complex systems such as hip prostheses where small particles trapped between the ball and socket can slowly damage the contacting surfaces.


  • Fully programmable experimental conditions

  • High cycle wear

  • Friction measurements

  • Wide selection of indenter materials and geometries

Liquid Cell

Anchor 16

Mechanical properties of materials often vary considerably when in their normal fluid environment compared to the usual laboratory dry testing conditions. Probing the mechanical properties of biological samples in fluid media should prove a closer mimic of in vivo conditions than conventional dry nanoindentation testing.

The testing capability of the NanoTest has been extended by the development of a liquid cell allowing nanoindentation, nano-scratch & wear testing of samples fully immersed in liquid. A friction transducer extension also allows immersed sample friction measurements. The fluid cell works with the existing pendulum design and the horizontal loading has several key advantages for testing in fluid.


  • Constant buoyancy force

  • Constant surface tension on loading column

  • Liquid is not underneath capacitor

Cold Stage

Humidity Cell

Anchor 17
Anchor 18

Many materials, particularly polymeric materials, show interesting transitions in mechanical properties and creep behaviour at sub-ambient temperatures. Understanding this behaviour is critical to exploring the use of these materials in extreme environments.  The cold stage from Micro Materials allows you to do this.

The cold stage uses Peltier cooling to cool both the sample stage and indenter to the required test temperature. Proprietary techniques then ensure isothermal contact between the indenter and the sample. Experiments take place in a nitrogen purged atmosphere to stop the formation of ice crystals in the test region. Testing can then be performed at any temperature from room temperature down to -20 ºC


  • Fully programmable experimental conditions

  • Isothermal contact

  • Test versatility

The humidity cell utilises a small external water vapour generator linked to a controller to provide the required humidity in the test cell.  An in-line desiccant is also present to pre-dry the air prior to controlled steam addition.  A full range of humidity from 10% to 90% is therefore possible, irrespective of ambient room conditions. Suitable for investigating the effect of humidity in:


  • Biological studies                             

  • Polymer films and nanocomposites

  • Tribology of biomaterials

The properties of many materials can vary significantly with changes to humidity.  This can be especially true of polymeric or biological samples.  Obtaining meaningful test results for prediction of true-life performance is better achieved by closely simulating service conditions.  The rapid change Humidity Cell module can assist considerably in achieving this.

  • Nano and Micro-friction in sliding wear

  • Cementious materials

  • MEMS/Microelectronics

Imaging Option


(Vacuum System)

Anchor 19
Anchor 20

Images taken on wood cells using the four lenses on the multiple objective microscope. Images can then be used to position indent sites. The sample stage features five pre-set positions:


  • 1: High temperature optics

  • 2: NanoTest (Low Load Head)

  • 3: AFM

  • 4: MicroTest (High Load Head)

  • 5: Multiple Objective Microscope

In order to target/ avoid specific structures on samples, the NanoTest Vantage is equipped with several imaging options. These options are also useful for reviewing residual damage post indent/ scratch/ impact.


The system is equipped with a multiple objective microscope and side-view optics as standard, and the user can then choose to add additional capability such as high temperature optics, an in-situ 3D profiler, or an AFM.

Researchers are increasingly demanding that test conditions closely mimic real-world environments in order to provide the most reliable, accurate prediction of properties.  With the NanoTest Vantage, Micro Materials already offers the most comprehensive range of nano-mechanical test options.


These are now further extended with the Xtreme, which provides a vacuum environment testing from -100 to 950 ºC without oxidation or frosting of samples

Micro Materials has considerable experience in providing instruments capable of high and low temperature testing.  Until recently, the limitations of these have been oxidation at high temperatures and condensation/frosting at sub-zero temperatures.  Testing under vacuum negates these and allows further expansion of the temperature capabilities of the NanoTest. The benefits to users are:


  •          Extended high temperature capabilities beyond the 750 °C provided by the NanoTest Vantage

  •          Enhanced low temperaturecapability to below -100 °C without frosting of samples

  •          Ultra-low thermal drift due to same construction principles

  •          Complete range of nanomechanical tests remain available at -100 to 950 °C

  •          Ability to backfill with gas to match material operating environments

bottom of page