National Physical Laboratory

Nano-testing the standards

UK SME demonstrates that their novel equipment for testing nano-structured materials complies with international standards.

Nano-testing the standards
Using NPL's Jamin laser interferometer to calibrate
a displacement transfer artefact to an ISO 14577
compliant specification

The Challenge

The Micro Materials Ltd (MML) 'NanoTest' is the only UK manufactured nano-indentation equipment. The NanoTest is ideal for the characterisation of elastic and plastic properties of small volumes of materials such as nano-structured materials, thin films, polymers and biomaterials.

There is a rapidly expanding market for academic and industrial nano-scale testing for materials research and development. MML can increase sales by becoming the first supplier in their market to demonstrate full compliance with the relevant international standards.

The Solution

Giles Aldrich-Smith of NPL's Performance Materials Team spent a week on secondment in May 2005 at MML to help create a calibration package for their equipment to fully conform to ISO 14577, the international standard covering nano-indentation. This required high-specification measurements of displacement and force as well instrument compliance against artefacts that are directly traceable to the UK national standards. The artefacts, in the form of certified reference materials, 'DataSure-IIT', were developed as a result of a recent EU-funded project carried out at NPL.

This secondment provided the ideal opportunity for an industrial trial of the DataSure-IIT materials as well allowing Giles to demonstrate successfully that the modifications and procedures MML proposed would result in a product which was compliant to ISO 14577.

The Impact

As a result MML have upgraded the NanoTest and now offer an ISO-compliant NanoTest package, both asĀ an upgrade to an existing system and as part of a new NanoTest instrument. The company plan to distribute the upgrade and the NPL DataSure-IIT certified reference materials as an essential part of their ISO 14577 conformity package.

"Having a highly trained NPL staff member on secondment has proved invaluable in our instrument development."
Dr B Beake, Director of Materials Research, MML

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Last Updated: 8 Oct 2012
Created: 6 Oct 2010

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