Nanoindentation for probing the mechanical behavior of molecular crystals–a review of the technique and how to use it
Nanoindentation is a technique which can be used to measure the mechanical properties of materials with high precision, even when they are only available in small quantities. As a result of this, nanoindentation has gained the attention of the crystal engineering community, who are not only interested in measuring the properties of single crystals of organic, inorganic and hybrid structures, but also wish to correlate the measured responses with the underlying structural features and intermolecular interactions. Keeping this emerging interest in view, a brief overview of the technique, with particular emphasis on the procedures for conducting experiments and analyzing the resulting data, is presented in this Tutorial style Highlight. The precautions that need to be taken and the properties that one can measure using nanoindentation are highlighted. This paper ends with a brief summary of the recent additional features that have been added to this technique and an outlook for nanoindentation within the context of crystal engineering.