Experimental Mechanics

National Laboratory: 
Sandia National Laboratories
Characterization Class: 
Extreme Environment Testing
Mechanical Behavior of Materials

This research facility, housed within Sandia National Laboratories, includes three laboratories—Mechanics of Materials Laboratory, Micromechanics Laboratory, and Lightweight Structures Characterization Laboratory—that emphasize development of new experimental methods and diagnostic measurements to advance theoretical material models for micromechanics, damage evolution, failure, rate effects, environmental effects, and multiphysics phenomena.

The laboratories include more than 30 load frames: MTS servo-hydraulic and electromechanical systems, Instron, Bose, Hopkinson bars, atomic force microscopy (AFM), in situ scanning electron microscopy (SEM) loading stage, and several custom-designed systems, as well as:

  • Range of length scales, loads (force, torque, pressure), temperatures, loading rates, and diagnostics
  • Extensive loading-type capabilities: axial, axial-torsional, in-plane biaxial, triaxial
  • Long history of coupled loading, thermal, mechanical, and electrical, expertise
  • Broad base of knowledge and experience across materials, structures, and solid mechanics
    • Materials and structures: metals, foams, polymers, ceramics, composites, rubber, fabrics
    • Static, dynamic, fracture, fatigue, plasticity, aging, environmental effects, impact, vibration
    • Weapon systems/component expertise (applied), Work for Others (NASA, Army, Navy, automotive industry, Transportation Security Administration, solar programs, U.S. Department of Energy)
    • Research projects (science) that help maintain cutting-edge capabilities
  • Maintain tight coupling between experiments and modeling
    • Extensive expertise in designing and developing validation experiments
    • Large-deformation mechanics
  •  Design and conduct experiments with precise loading and well-controlled boundary conditions (necessary for accurate finite-element modeling and for solving complex problems)
Capability Bounds: 

Load: 2 million pounds to less than 1 µn/1 µm load/displacement, creep to quasi-static to dynamic strain rates.
Temperature: cryogenic to melt (convection and conduction furnaces, induction heating, radiant heating, direct resistive heating.
Diagnostics: full-field imaging (two- and three-dimensional digital image correlation [DIC]), volumetric imaging (digital volume correlation [DVC]), thermal (infrared) imaging, extensive high-speed photography, micro- and nano-scale imaging.

Unique Aspects: 

Full range of experimental mechanics capabilities, diagnostics, and necessary expertise to use them within one department.
Direct-load measuring high rate capabilities (non-Hopkinson bar) up to 20 meters per second for extreme loading (rate effects).
High-temperature, high-vacuum capability for characterizing tensile behavior of materials and studying environmental effects: 10-7 torr vacuum with simultaneous temperatures exceeding 1200°C.


Available through internal and external collaboration with department technical staff. Equipment availability varies depending on ongoing research and programs.

Single Point of Contact: 

Name: Bonnie Antoun
Email: brantou@sandia.gov
Phone: 925-294-4707

  1. Lu, W. Y., Antoun, B. R., Korellis, J. S., Scheffel, S., Lee, M. Y., Hardy, R. D., Costin, L. S., "Material Characterization of Shuttle Thermal Protection System for Impact Analyses," Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 42, No. 5, Sept.-Oct. 2005, pp. 795-803.
  2. Song, B., Antoun, B.R., Nie, X, and Chen, W., “High-rate Characterization of 304L Stainless Steel at Elevated Temperatures for Recrystallization Investigation,” Experimental Mechanics, April 2010, 50:553-560. doi: 10.1007/s11340-009-9253-6.
  3. Jin, H., Lu, W.Y., Mota, A., Foulk, J.W., Johnson, G.C., “An Examination of Anisotropic Void Evolution in Aluminum Alloy 7075,” Experimental Mechanics, November 2013, doi: 10.1007/s11340-013-9765-y.
Supporting Document(s):