Scanning Microscopy


Vickers hardness tests on microscopic small bodies, e.g., fibers, powder particles, thin layers, etc., require imprint dimensions near or even below the resolution limits of light microscopes. Hence, to detect and evaluate these miniature imprints a scanning electron microscope (SEM) has to be used. For such observations in a SEM, nonconducting samples have to be coated with a thin conductive layer. The influence of these films on the imprint size and thus on the hardness value can be rather significant. On the basis of a systematic investigation in the case of a layer much softer than the sample to be tested, methods for an elimination of the layer's contribution to the hardness result are presented.

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