The elastic properties and adhesion of a thin silicone rubber membrane have been characterized. An effective instrumentation embodying a video-enhanced microscope, which meets force and displacement resolution of 0.1μN and 10 nm, was developed. It provides the capability of simultaneously measuring both the applied force and the resultant displacement of the thin polymer membrane. A linear theoretical elastic solution was applied to quantitatively interpret the measured central deflection of the membrane under a circular concentrical load. Young's modulus of the membrane can be easily determined once the applied force and the central deflection, together with the essential dimensions, are known. The membrane jumped into an adhesion contact when the punch approached the range of the inter-surface force across the punch-membrane gap. A pull-off event was observed at a nonzero contact circle when the tensile load reached a critical threshold. The experiment is basically consistent with a theoretical model based on linear elasticity and an energy balance. The new method can be used to measure mechanical behavior of prestressed ultra-thin biomembranes and thin walled biocapsules with a residual stress.
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