As the need of new methods for the investigation of thin films on various kinds of substrates becomes greater, a novel approach based on AFM nanoindentation is explored. Substrates of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) coated by a layer of hard material are probed with an AFM tip in order to obtain the force profile as a function of the indentation. The equivalent elasticity of those composite systems is interpreted using a new numerical approach, the Coated Half-Space Indentation Model of Elastic Response (CHIMER), in order to extract the thicknesses of the upper layer. Two kinds of coating are investigated. First, chitosan films of known thicknesses between 30 and 200 nm were probed in order to test the model. A second type of samples is produced by oxygen plasma oxidation of the PDMS substrate, which results in the growth of a relatively homogeneous oxide layer. The local nature of this protocol enables measurements at long oxidation time, where the apparition of cracks prevents other kinds of measurements.
Sarrazin, Baptiste, Rémy Brossard, Patrick Guenoun, Florent Malloggi