Film thickness limits of a buckling-based method to determine mechanical properties of polymer coatings

Elina Niinivaara, Johanna Desmaisons, Alain Dufresne, Julien Bras*, Emily D. Cranston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Characterizing the mechanical properties of polymer coatings typically requires access to specialty equipment, the analysis through which can be tedious despite instrumental precision. An alternative method reported in the literature, strain-induced elastic buckling instability for mechanical measurements (SIEBIMM), is a high throughput, facile yet accurate method, used to characterize the Young's modulus of supported films and coatings. SIEBIMM can easily be implemented in both academic and industrial settings. Hypothesis: We hypothesize that the SIEBIMM method has an upper coating thickness limit beyond which the assumptions and practicality of the method are no longer valid. Experiments: The Young's moduli of model polyvinyl alcohol coatings (on polydimethylsiloxane substrates) with thicknesses ranging from 67 nm to 40 µm were determined using the SIEBIMM method and the data were subjected to a rigorous statistical analysis. Findings: SIEBIMM could accurately characterize coatings up to 35 µm thick. The Young's modulus of all coatings ≤ 35 µm was 1.6 ± 0.1 GPa at 50% RH, which agreed with free-standing polyvinyl alcohol films measured by traditional tensile testing. For the method to be used on thicker coatings, it is essential to consistently measure coating thickness and buckling wavelength at the same location to minimize potential error.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-235
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Issue numberPart A
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Mechanical properties
  • Polymer coatings
  • PVOH
  • Young's modulus

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