Materials analysis

In the RMS Foundation the following methods of analyses of metallic, ceramic or polymeric materials are at your disposal. All testing services have been accredited according to ISO/IEC 17025.

X-ray fluorescence analyses (XRF) of metallic and non-metallic materials

The qualitative and quantitative energy dispersive and wavelength dispersive X-ray fluorescence analyses (XRF) serve to determine the composition of metallic and non-metallic materials (all elements from sodium to uranium).

Equipment: X-ray fluorescence spectrometer BRUKER S8 Tiger (WD-XRF)Handheld X-ray fluorescence spectrometer BRUKER S1 Titan LE (ED-XRF)

Contact: Fabrizio Bigolin+41 32 644-2023

Inorganic analysis using inductively coupled plasma and mass spectrometry (ICP-MS)

ICP-MS is a very robust and sensitive analytical method for detection of inorganic compounds. It has a wide dynamic range of up to 9 orders of magnitude, down to pg/L. The ICP-MS technology is applicable for virtually any inorganic analytical task including the detection of inorganic leachables and extractables according to ISO 10993, wear debris in metal working fluids, residual heavy metals in materials (e.g. RoHS regulation) and food products, or the composition of drinking water, blood or tissues. Chemical digestion methods are applied prior to analysis if the sample is a solid or enclosed in an organic matrix such as for body fluids or oils.

Equipment: Agilent 7700x ICP-MS

Contact: Christoph Stähli+41 32 644-2044

Energy dispersive microanalyses (EDX)

In the qualitative and quantitative analysis of the surface of solid or powdery materials, the energy dispersive spectroscopy by X-rays (EDX) on the electron microscope is used to identify the elements from bor to uranium contained in the sample surface. The quantitative analyses allow determining the content of selected elements.

Equipment: Zeiss EVO MA25 with Oxford x-Max 50 Detector

Contact: Fabrizio Bigolin+41 32 644-2023

Please read more on "energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy" in our Newsletter No. 6 

Determination of C, S, H, N, O and Ar content in metallic materials

This analysis is based on the inert gas fusion (IGF) principle, which involves melting of the sample material in a graphite crucible at high temperatures. The principle is also commonly termed a melt extraction (ME) It is used to determine the carbon, sulfur, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and argon content of metallic or non-metallic materials.

Equipment: LECO CS 230 carbon and sulphur determination device / Bruker G8 Galileo / Mass spectrometer ESD 100

Contact: Fabrizio Bigolin+41 32 644-2023

Infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR)

Infrared spectroscopy (Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy FT-IR) for the identification of organic compounds, polymers, adhesives, greases, oils, etc. A fully automated FT-IR microscope with motorized ATR crystal (ATR = attenuated total reflection) is available for measurements on microscopic samples (solids, powders, liquids) in the measurement modes transmission, reflection and ATR.

Equipment: FT-IR microscope Bruker Lumos

Contact: Fabrizio Bigolin+41 32 644-2023

Calorimetric analyses (DSC)

This differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) is used to measure a specimen’s enthalpy variations when heated, cooled or at a constant temperature. This method enables not only to measure the temperatures at which the variations in enthalpy occur, but also the heat of reaction in a quantitative way. The measurements can be realised in different gas atmospheres using various heating or cooling rates.

Equipment: Mettler STAR system DSC1

Contact: Fabrizio Bigolin+41 32 644-2023

Microcalorimetric measurements of solutions and solid materials (non-accredited service)

The measurement of the heat emitted by a chemical and/or physical reaction permits to pinpoint the heat-flow data in the milliwatt range and on isothermal conditions continuously as a function of time. During the measurement, the specially constructed «Admix» injection ampoule enables to mix and inject the liquids on isothermal conditions in order to investigate, for instance, the first phases of a cement reaction.

Equipment: TAM Air 3115/3238 Calorimeter (isothermal) with Admix injection ampoule

Contact: Marc Bohner+41 32 644-2040

Determination of the residues on ignition of polymers

The incineration or calcination method is used to determine the residues on ignition or the ash of polymers as well as the textile-glass and mineral-filler content of fibreglass reinforced plastics.

Determination of viscosity

Serves to determine the inherent viscosity and molecular weight of PE and polylactides.

Equipment: LAUDA Proline PV 15 viscometer

Contact: Fabrizio Bigolin+41 32 644-2023

Particle analysis

The particle analysis is a way to qualitatively or quantitatively determine the particle size distribution in powders, suspensions and emulsions. Furthermore, the characterisation of particle debris from wear tests is viable. Different measuring principles are available:

In the Laser Diffraction principle, the particles are irradiated by a laser beam. A characteristic annular intensity distribution is produced after transmission of the specimen by partial diffraction. This intensity distribution is detected and transformed to a particle size distribution by calculation (Theory of Mie or Fraunhofer). The principle allows for the qualitative determination in a range of 0.017– 2000 µm (wet) or 0.04 – 2000 µm (dry) respectively. Ultrasonic agitation aids for a good dispersion.

Particle size and shape can be determined by filtration and documentation as well.

Equipment: Beckman Coulter LS 13320 (Laser Diffraction principle) / Particle characterization by filtration and documentation using light microscopy and SEM

Contact: Thomas Imwinkelried+41 32 644-2018

Please read more on «Particle size measurements» in our Newsletter No. 17 

Coating thickness measurement (eddy current and magnetic induction method)

Non-destructive coating thickness measurement according to the eddy current method (DIN EN ISO 2316) and the magnetic induction method (DIN EN ISO 2178). Due to automatic substrate material recognition and the integration of both methods, non-magnetic coatings on steel and iron (Fe) and nonconductive layers on non-ferromagnetic metals or nonconductive substrates can be measured. The method permitted a determination of the coating thickness in a range of 0 – 2000 µm (Fe) respectively 0 – 1200 µm (NFe). With a measurement stand a precise and exact measurement even on small samples is possible.

Equipment: Fischer Dualscope FMP20

Contact: Dieter Streit+41 32 644-2021

Electrical conductivity measurement of non-ferrous metals

Fast, non-destructive and precise measurement of the electrical conductivity of non-ferrous metals using various frequencies. Determination of the hardening condition of precipitation hardenable alloys (e.g. Al, Cu).

Equipment: Fischer Sigmascope SMP10

Contact: Lukas Eschbach+41 32 644-2020

Corrosion measurements (electrochemical methods)

These measurements are used to determine the local corrosion properties of real surfaces of metallic materials using the EC-pen. Pen tip: A = 1.5 mm2.

Equipment: EC-pen with Jaissle potentiostat

Contact: Lukas Eschbach+41 32 644-2020

Please read more on «Corrosion and Corrosion Measurement» in our Newsletter No. 3

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