The investigation of fractures or material softening is normally part of damage and error analysis. One particular challenge is the analysis of cracks at the nano scale, so this is an active research field in materials science. The intelligent integration of AFM and strain measurements in one SEM allows to combine the strengths of these two microscopy methods. In the optic-free setup of the AFSEM, the cantilever can be placed directly on the tensile stage of the SEM (Fig. 1).
Fig. 2 shows the strain of a 250 µm copper wire as an example of a correlative in situ strain measurement. The wire was stretched up to 29%. Thanks to the high resolution of the SEM, the exact same spot can be identified for various strain states and the change in roughness of the wire surface can be analyzed with nanometer precision (see fig. 3).