Viscoelastic properties are often measured using probe based techniques such as nanoindentation (NI) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Rarely, however, are these methods verified. In this article, we present a method that combines contact mechanics with a viscoelastic model (VEM) composed of springs and dashpots. We further show how to use this model to determine viscoelastic properties from creep curves recorded by a probe based technique. We focus on using the standard linear solid model and the generalized Maxwell model of order 2. The method operates in the range of 0.01 Hz to 1 Hz. Our approach is suitable for rough surfaces by providing a defined contact area using plastic pre-deformation of the material. The very same procedure is used to evaluate AFM based measurements as well as NI measurements performed on polymer samples made from poly(methyl methacrylate) and polycarbonate. The results of these measurements are then compared to those obtained by tensile creep tests also performed on the same samples. It is found that the tensile test results differ considerably from the results obtained by AFM and NI methods. The similarity between the AFM results and NI results suggests that the proposed method is capable of yielding results comparable to NI but with the advantage of the imaging possibilities of AFM. Furthermore, all three methods allowed a clear distinction between PC and PMMA by means of their respective viscoelastic properties.
Ganser, C., Czibula, C., Tscharnuter, D., Schöberl, T., Teichert, C., & Hirn, U. (2017). Combining adhesive contact mechanics with a viscoelastic material model to probe local material properties by AFM. Soft Matter, 14(1), 140–150. https://doi.org/10.1039/c7sm02057k