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Load and depth sensing indentation as a tool to monitor a gradient in the mechanical properties across a polymer coating: A study of physical and chemical aging effects

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Author: Boersma, A. · Soloukhin, V.A. · Brokken-Zijp, J.C.M. · With, G. de
Institution: TNO Industrie
Source:Journal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics, 9, 42, 1628-1639
Identifier: 237731
doi: doi:10.1002/polb.20032
Keywords: Materials · Ageing · Coatings · Creep · Degradation · Indentation · Aging of materials · Creep · Degradation · Elastic moduli · Hardness · Indentation · Oxidation · Tensile testing · Chemical aging · Nanoindentation · Physical aging · Polymer coatings · Polycarbonates


Load and depth sensing indentation has been used to characterize the elastic modulus and hardness of various polycarbonate films. This analytical technique is shown to be extremely suitable for the determination of gradients in these mechanical properties. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that such a gradient exists over a length of micrometers in chemically aged polycarbonate, but it is virtually absent in physically aged polycarbonate. From these results, it is concluded that, although the first 100 nm cannot be probed, physical aging occurs homogeneously throughout the bulk of the sample. However, chemical aging starts at the surface and moves progressively into the bulk of the material. From the study of these films, it appears that for the interpretation of these measurements, knowledge about the amount of creep occurring during the measurements and about the mechanical properties of the substrate on which these films are applied is needed. Creep can be measured with the same indenter through the application of a constant load for a period of time. Load and depth sensing indentation appears to be a powerful method for studying the physical and chemical aging of polymers. It is especially valuable for coatings and films for which conventional tensile testing is problematic. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.