A PEEK ON the lab

Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt
(PTB, Germany)

Contacts: Uwe BRAND, uwe.brand@ptb.de – Zhi LI, zhi.li@ptb.de – Bernd BODERMANN, Bernd.Bodermann@ptb.de – Kimberly SMITH-RÖSLER, Kimberly.Smith-Roesler@PTB.de



The self-developed MEMS Picoindenter in department 5.1, PTB.

The Department 5.1 Surface Metrology, PTB

PTB is the National Metrology Institute of Germany with scientific and technical service tasks. The Department 5.1 Surface Metrology, led by Dr. Uwe Brand, concentrates mainly on

  • developing tactile silicon micro probes applicable for high- speed scanning

  • developing MEMS probes for measuring mechanical surface properties

  • modeling optical microscopes aiming at a better understanding of optical roughness metrology, and

  • developing procedures to produce crystalline silicon standards applicable in nanometrology.

Within the frame of this project, an innovative MEMS-Picoindenter with exchangeable AFM probes as indenters will be developed for high-throughput nanoelectromechanical characterisation of nanomaterials, and nanowires in particular.

Prototype of a silicon MEMS-Picoindenter head for nanomechanical and nanoelectricalcharacterisation of bulk and nanomaterials.

Prototype of a silicon MEMS-Picoindenter head

The MEMS-Picoindenter offers:

  • indentation force up to 1 mN with a nN resolution

  • indentation depth up to 10 µN with a pm resolution

  • dynamic indentation analysis up to 1 kHz

  • various AFM probes for material testing

  • I-V characterisation with fA resolution.


Within the frame of this project, and supported by experienced engineers and technicians in PTB department 5.1, the scientific coworker Dr. Christian Kuhlmann will

  • develop an innovative MEMS-SPM head

  • implement a high-speed surface scanning system with the maximum speed up to 1 mm/s

  • realize the through-tip current measurement system with a current sensitivity down to fA over the range up to mA

  • measure the nanomechanical and nanoelectrical properties of nanowires with a diameter down to sub-100 nm.