Issue 43, 2022

Automated analysis of soft material microindentation


An understanding of the mechanical properties of soft hydrogel materials over multiple length scales is important for their application in many fields. Typical measurement methods provide either bulk mechanical properties (compression, tensile, rheology) or probing of nano or microscale properties and heterogeneity (nanoindentation, AFM). In this work we demonstrate the complementarity of instrumented microindentation to these techniques, as it provides representative Young's moduli for soft materials with minimal influence of the experimental parameters chosen, and allows mechanical property mapping across macroscopic areas. To enable automated analysis of the large quantities of data required for these measurements, we develop a new fitting algorithm to process indentation data. This method allows for the determination of Young's moduli from imperfect data by automatic selection of a region of the indentation curve which does not display inelastic deformation or substrate effects. We demonstrate the applicability of our approach with a range of hydrogels, including materials with patterns and gradients in stiffness, and expect the techniques described here to be useful developments for the mechanical analysis of a wide range of soft and biological systems.

Graphical abstract: Automated analysis of soft material microindentation

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Article information

Article type
27 Jun 2022
17 Oct 2022
First published
26 Oct 2022
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Soft Matter, 2022,18, 8302-8314

Automated analysis of soft material microindentation

H. E. Symons, A. Galanti, J. C. Surmon, R. S. Trask, S. Rochat and P. Gobbo, Soft Matter, 2022, 18, 8302 DOI: 10.1039/D2SM00857B

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