Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 March 2018
Testing the mechanical properties of nanoscale materials faces a number of inherent challenges. As the size of the “target” decreases, the inability to actually see what occurs during testing can be troublesome. While a number of studies have attempted to characterize the mechanical response of nanoscale materials using traditional nanoindentation techniques, certain lingering questions have always remained. For example, the nature and sequence of failure events in the case of multilayer films has long been the subject of scientific debate. Similarly, in the case of individual nanoparticles, it is often difficult to ascertain that contact was both made and maintained throughout the test. Further, the crystallographic orientation of the sample and/or the presence of preexisting defects, which can have a significant influence on mechanical properties at the nanoscale, typically remain unknown.