Elastic modulus measurements from individual lactose particles using atomic force microscopy.Int J Pharm. 2007 Mar 06; 332(1-2):168-75.IJ
The elastic modulus of pharmaceutical materials affects a number of pharmaceutical processes and subsequently formulation performance and is currently assessed by bulk methods, such as beam bending of compacts. Here we demonstrate the accurate measurement of the elastic modulus of alpha monohydrate lactose from the dominant (011) face of single crystals using atomic force microscopy (AFM) as 3.45+/-0.90GPa. The criteria to ensure this data is recorded within the elastic limit and can be modelled using Hertzian theory are established. We compare and contrast this AFM method to a permanent indentation technique based upon a much larger Berkovich pyramidal indenter on a lactose compact and the wider literature. Finally the AFM was utilized to study the elastic response of amorphous lactose, demonstrating that the physical state of the amorphous material changes under repeated loading and behaves in a more crystalline manner under repeated force measurements, suggesting a pressure induced phase transition. The AFM based approach demonstrated has the significant advantages of requiring minimal sample, no need for producing a compact, being non-destructive in that no permanent indent is required and providing a technique capable of detecting variations in material properties across a single particle or a number of particles.