Journal of Materials Research


Indentation mechanics of Cu–Be quantified by an in situ transmission electron microscopy mechanical probe

M.S. Bobjia1 c1, J.B. Pethicaa2 and B.J. Inksona3

a1 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, 560 012 India

a2 Department of Materials, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3PH United Kingdom; and Physics Department, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland

a3 Department of Engineering Materials, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S1 3JD United Kingdom


In situ transmission electron microscopy was used to study, in real time, the sub-surface deformation taking place in Cu–Be alloy during nanoindentation. A twinned region of the material was indented with a sharp tungsten tip in a specially developed transmission electron microscopy (TEM) holder. A flexible hinge-based force sensor was used to measure the force on the indenter, and the force–displacement curve for the tip was obtained by tracking the tip in the sequential images of a TEM video of the indentation process. Step-like structures ∼50 nm in size resulting from the tip surface roughness were observed to generate clusters of dislocations in the sample when they come in contact with the softer Cu–Be. With this setup, the forces and the mean pressure associated with such an individual deformation event in a nanostructured TEM sample were measured.

(Received May 18 2005)

(Accepted June 28 2005)

Key Words:

  • Hardness;
  • Nanoindentation;
  • Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)


c1 Address all correspondence to this author. e-mail: