Nanomechanical testing in drug delivery: Theory, applications, and emerging trends

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Mechanical properties play a central role in drug formulation development and manufacturing. Traditional characterization of mechanical properties of pharmaceutical solids relied mainly on large compacts, instead of individual particles. Modern nanomechanical testing instruments enable quantification of mechanical properties from the single crystal/particle level to the finished tablet. Although widely used in characterizing inorganic materials for decades, nanomechanical testing has been relatively less employed to characterize pharmaceutical materials. This review focuses on the applications of existing and emerging nanomechanical testing methods in characterizing mechanical properties of pharmaceutical solids to facilitate fast and cost-effective development of high quality drug products. Testing of pharmaceutical materials using nanomechanical techniques holds potential to develop fundamental knowledge in the structure–property relationships of molecular solids, with implications for solid form selection, milling, formulation design, and manufacturing. We also systematically discuss pitfalls and useful tips during sample preparation and testing for reliable measurements from nanomechanical testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114167
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the NSF for an IUCRC planning grant (IIP-1841363) for the Center for Integrated Material Science and Engineering for Pharmaceutical Products (CIMSEPP).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • Amorphous solid dispersions
  • Mechanical properties
  • Molecular crystals
  • Nanoindentation
  • Pharmaceutical materials
  • Size effect
  • Tabletability

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review


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