A novel nano-bubble inflation method for determining the viscoelastic properties of ultrathin polymer films



We describe a novel experimental technique for measuring the absolute creep compliance of ultrathin polymer films. The method is based on the classical bubble inflation technique for measuring the biaxial creep compliance of films, reduced in size to measure films with thicknesses down to at least 11.3 nm. The method uses the imaging capabilities of the atomic force microscope (AFM) to determine the time evolution of the geometry of nano-bubbles and thus avoids the problems with data interpretation that can arise due to “contact mechanics” issues when the AFM is used as a direct mechanical testing device. SCANNING 30: 000–000, 2008. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.