Nanoindentation is a new technology slowly gaining acceptance in the oil and gas community. In an effort to accelerate its adoption, we review its capabilities and applications. The technology was developed to study thin film and semiconductor properties. It became attractive to the oil and gas industry when focus switched to unconventional shales. Because of the friability and instability of shales, retrieving core plugs for standard measurements became impossible in many cases. Nanoindentation is perfectly adapted to measuring the properties of fine-grained materials and material fragments. We document how nanoindentation can be used to measure Young’s modulus, hardness, shear modulus, anisotropy, creep, and fracture toughness and to examine the fluid sensitivity of these properties in shale.

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