The digital image correlation (DIC) technique is successfully applied across multiple length scales through the generation of a suitable speckle pattern at each size scale. For microscale measurements, a random speckle pattern of paint is created with a fine point airbrush. Nanoscale displacement resolution is achieved with a speckle pattern formed by solution deposition of fluorescent silica nanoparticles. When excited, the particles fluoresce and form a speckle pattern that can be imaged with an optical microscope. Displacements are measured on the surface and on an interior plane of transparent polymer samples with the different speckle patterns. Rigid body translation calibrations and uniaxial tension experiments establish a surface displacement resolution of 1 μm over a 5×6 mm scale field of view for the airbrushed samples and 17 nm over a 100×100 μm scale field of view for samples with the fluorescent nanoparticle speckle. To demonstrate the capabilities of the method, we characterize the internal deformation fields generated around silica microspheres embedded in an elastomer under tensile loading. The DIC technique enables measurement of complex deformation fields with nanoscale precision over relatively large areas, making it of particular relevance to materials that possess multiple length scales.
Digital image correlation Nanoparticle Displacement measurement Multiscale Deformation