Agilent has been aggressively expanding its presence in the materials science analysis market and the acquisition of Nano Instruments from MTS Systems Corp is its third this year, having also bought microscope manufacturer TLL Photonics and particle analysis expert, Colloidal Dynamics. The acquisition will add Nano Instruments G200 and G300 Nano Indenter systems as well as the Nano UTM (Universal Testing Machine) system to Agilent's Materials Sciences Solutions unit (MSSU), which was formed after its acquisition of atomic force microscopy (AFM) instrument manufacturer Molecular Imaging in 2005. "The Nano Instruments acquisition will enable Agilent to offer an expanded portfolio of nanomeasurement tools to our customers and complement Agilent's existing atomic force microscopy (AFM) business," said Eric Endicott, public relations manager for Agilent's LSCA division."This acquisition comes at a time when Agilent is making a thrust into nanotechnology and growing its Materials Sciences Solutions Unit (MSSU)." No financial details were disclosed about the acquisition; however Nano Instruments' 45 members of staff are expected to join Agilent as part of its Life Science and Chemical Analysis (LSCA) division's MSSU. Nanoindentation is a technique that enables scientists to investigate the mechanical properties of materials and structures on the nanoscale and has become increasingly important for measuring the structural integrity of semiconductor devices, coatings and thin films. Both nanoindentation systems and AFMs are used to measure and characterise materials for hardness, elasticity and viscosity on the nanometre scale and the two techniques are often used together for materials characterisation. "Nano Instruments has great depth of experience and a well-deserved reputation for excellence in nanoindentation," said Bob Burns, vice president of Agilent's Nanotechnology Measurements Division. "With Agilent's robust sales channel and global infrastructure, we anticipate growing the Nano Instruments business and offering a more complete nanomeasurement product portfolio to our customers worldwide."