In-­Situ Micromechanics Laboratory (ISmicroLAB)


The Laboratory intends to operate in the physical/mechanical characterization of small-scale materials and devices' sector, especially with regard to the development of in‐situ testing based on multi-physical measurements. What is meant by the term “in‐situ testing” is a mechanical and physical (e.g. electro-mechanical) characterization simultaneously with a quantitative optical examination of the superficial behaviour of the sample subjected to testing. Although there might be multiple scopes of application, the activity involves the various sectors in which the departments concerned have been operating for some time; in particular, the micro-mechanical characterization of technical fabrics and composite materials, the superficial physical characterization of building materials, MicroElectroMechanical systems (MEMS), deformable electronic systems within a biomedical context, micromechanics of biological tissues and materials for biomedical and electronic applications, as well as analyses of superficial patterns arising from small-scale instability phenomena on materials subject to mechanical stress.


Mechanics Lab of Biological Structures (LaBS) of the Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering.


  • Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering (DCMC)
    • Nano-indentation system
    • Micro-traction system with electronics and control software
    • System for small-scale bulge tests 
  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (DICA)
    • Digital capacimeter Agilent E4980A LCR meter
    • Oscilloscope Agilent InfiniVision 2000 X‐series
    • Low noise current amplifier SR570 Standford research
    • Arbitrary wave form generator
  • Department of Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering (DABC)
    • Optical systems and software for measurements based on the image correlation technique

Equipment being acquired:

  • Confocal laser microscope in reflected laser light
  • Biaxial micro-traction system for planar samples

Services provided

The ISmicroLAB inter-departmental Laboratory is devoted to research within the scope of in-situ characterization of small-scale materials. Accordingly, the university research groups involved in this field may contact the management committee in order to agree on the activities to be implemented. Moreover, ISmicroLAB may offer characterization services outside the University as well, by providing services of mechanical characterization of materials to companies or research centres involved in all those instances where it might be of interest to conduct a small-scale study, whether or not with a simultaneous laser-based optical observation.

The following, in particular, will be available:

  • Characterization for micro- and nano-indentation
  • Characterization through micro-traction
  • Characterization for micro-traction with examination (SEM[*], confocal Laser, optical microscopy)
  • Characterization through a biaxial traction device, with simultaneous confocal laser or optical microscopy examination (such device will only become available at the end of the system implementation phase; to that end, a specific notice is going to be issued on the website of the lab)
  • Soon, a characterization system for thin membranes, too, will be available. It will be fitted with a “bulge test” system, with simultaneous confocal laser examination

[*] The use of the scanning electron detection system entails a service rendered at the SAMM (Microstructural Analysis of Materials Service) service laboratory that will attract additional costs.

Procedures and costs of using equipment

Given the peculiarity of the testing types offered, the costs of accessing equipment for researchers attached to Politecnico di Milano are going to be assessed in the light of the research project and the use of the equipment.

Contact point:
Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering

Management Committee