ZHN/SEM nanoindenter for scanning electron microscopes

The ZHN/SEM is a complete nanoindenter specifically designed for use in the confined spaces of the vacuum chamber of a scanning electron microscope (SEM).

Key advantages and features

  • Indenter can be tailored to customer requirements over a wide range.
  • Force and displacement control available as closed or open loop.
  • Dynamic measurement method with frequencies up to 100 Hz for fatigue and continuous stiffness measurements available as option.
  • An outstanding feature of the measuring head is that it can be used in the compression and tensile directions over the entire measuring range.
  • Video synchronization: the recorded image can be shown by transferring data to an additional window on the SEM computer via TCP/IP.
Image of an indentation recorded in a SEM

Range of application

The ZHN/SEM nanoindenter for installation in a scanning electron microscope (SEM) enables micromechanical experiments to be performed while observing the specimen at maximum resolution. It possesses the largest measuring range currently available, with a maximum displacement measurement of 200 µm and a maximum force of 200 mN, combined with very low-noise force and displacement sensors in a low-vibration environment. Instrument stiffness is so high that conventional hardness measurements can be performed without difficulty.

The standard system was developed for installation on the stage system of various SEMs, but can also be mounted on the chamber wall. The existing tilt and positioning options of the SEM stage can be used with this system.

  • The system consists of:
  • the measuring head with sensors and actuator
  • a piezo stage system for positioning specimens in the XY direction and optional rotation around the indenter axis
  • a stiff mechanical Z-stage for displacement of the measuring head towards the specimen
  • PC and controller
  • easy-to-use, highly flexible software
  • one or two flanges with feed-throughs (SEM-specific)

Technical overview

ZHN0.2/SEM measuring head

Item No.




Test load, max. (Fmax)

approx. 200


Displacement, max.

approx. 200 µm at 20 mN; 1500 µm at 200 mN

Force resolution, digital



Displacement resolution, digital



Noise level, force measurement (RMS)



Noise level, displacement measurement (RMS)



Stage system

X and Y-stage: movement range (standard)

21 x12


X and Y-stage: positioning accuracy



X and Y-stage: measurement system resolution



Z-stage: movement range

15 (optionally 25)


Z-stage: positioning accuracy



Z-stage: measurement system resolution



  1. Compression and tensile
  • For use in a scanning electron microscope (SEM)
  • Consisting of measuring head, control electronics, control unit with monitor, keyboard and mouse

Dimensions of ZHN/SEM

ZHN/SEM dimensions

Characterization of coatings in the nano range

As coatings become thinner, the difficulty in determining their physical properties increases. The limits of previously tried and tested surface engineering techniques are encountered and results become unreliable. Available from ZwickRoell is an efficient solution to this problem in the form of a tester developed specifically for characterizing mechanical surface properties in the micro and nano ranges.