In situ electron microscopy tensile tests of nanowires and carbon nanotubes performed using a MEMS-based material testing system are reported. The development of the material testing system (previously reported elsewhere23–26) is briefly reviewed. This system, consisting of a surface micromachined actuator and load sensor, makes possible continuous observation of specimen deformation and failure with sub-nanometer resolution, while simultaneously measuring the applied load electronically with nanonewton resolution. This letter begins with a brief review of some of the methods used in mechanical characterization of nanoscale specimens, followed by a description of the MEMS-based material testing system. Finally, emphasis is placed on experimental results demonstrating the advantages of the MEMS-based system.
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