The first part of this chapter describes local (at the scale of nanometers) measurements of mechanical properties. It includes detailed state-of-the-art presentation and in-depth analysis of experimental techniques, results, and interpretations.
After a short introduction, the second part describes local mechanical spectroscopy using coupled Atomic Force Microscopy and ultrasound. This technique allows us to map quickly not only spatial distribution of the elasticity but anelastic properties as well. At one point in the sample, semi-quantitative measurements can be made as a function of the temperature. On the nanometer scale, results have close similitudes to bulk measurements and interpretable differences. Local elasticity and damping were measured during phase transition of polymer samples and shape-memory alloys.
The third part describes the “nano-Swiss cheese” method of measuring the elastic properties of such tubular nanometer size objects as carbon nanotubes and microtubules. It is probably the only experiment in which properties of single-wall nanotube ropes were measured as a function of the rope diameter. We extended this idea to biological objects, microtubules, and successfully solved major experimental difficulties. We not only measured the temperature dependency of microtubule modulus in pseudo-physiological conditions but also estimated shear modulus using the same microtubule with several lengths of suspended segments.
The fourth section demonstrates the scanning nanoindentation technique as applied to human bone tissue. This instrument allows performing topography scans and indentation tests using the identical tip. The available surface scan allows a high positioning precision of the indenter tip on the structure of interest. For very inhomogeneous samples, such as bone tissue, this tool provides a probe to detect local variations of the mechanical properties. The indentation test supplies quantitative parameters like elastic modulus and hardness on the submicron level. Local mechanical properties of compact and trabecular bone lamellae were tested under both dry and pseudo-physiological conditions.
Finally, last part is given to a discussion of future prospects and conclusions.