Nanoscale indentation of polymer and composite particles by atomic force microscopy

Silvia Armini*, Ivan U. Vakarelski, Caroline M. Whelan, Karen Maex, Ko Higashitani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) was employed to probe the mechanical properties of surface-charged polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)-based terpolymer and a composite terpolymer core-silica shell nanosphere in air and water media. Since these materials exhibit enhanced mechanical properties, such as toughness and elasticity, and enhanced chemical stability, they are particularly interesting for potential applications in reducing defectivity during the process of Chemical Mechanical Planarization. The polymer particles were subjected to a thermal treatment aimed at improving their mechanical properties in terms of hardness (H) and elastic modulus (E). By analysis of force-displacement curves and on the basis of Hertz's theory of contact mechanics, Young's moduli were measured for the terpolymer compared with the composite that has expected mechanical property enhancement due to its silica shell. In air, E increases from 4.3 GPa to 6.6 GPa for the treated terpolymer compared with the respective value of 10.3 GPa measured for the composite. In water, E increases from 1.6 GPa to 4.5 GPa for the thermally treated terpolymer that is comparable with the respective value of 3.6 GPa measured for the composite. This observation suggests that as an alternative to the creation of polymer-silica composite nanoparticles for CMP, comparable mechanical properties can be achieved by a simple heat treatment step.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationColloidal Materials
Subtitle of host publicationSynthesis, Structure, and Applications
PublisherMaterials Research Society
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)1558998993, 9781558998995
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes
Event2006 MRS Spring Meeting - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Apr 17 2006Apr 21 2006

Publication series

NameMaterials Research Society Symposium Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0272-9172


Other2006 MRS Spring Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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