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Materials science and engineering

Find out how our solutions can advance your knowledge of ceramics, metals, and polymers

Interested in improving your materials science research and engineering knowledge with our analytical solutions? Whether you’re a student, a researcher, or a professor, we’ve got a wide range of useful articles on the most relevant application examples of our ceramics, metals, and polymer research solutions. 

The materials researched and analytical equipment used often overlaps with Chemistry and Applied Chemistry, Electronic Engineering and Semiconductor Materials, and Physics and Applied Physics, so you can also find useful information on those pages. The method abbreviations are explained at the bottom of this page.

Ceramics

Ceramics can have many different structures and compositions, and they may contain any element from the periodic table. Ceramics are also studied in Chemistry and Applied Chemistry for synthesis and chemical characterization. Here are just a few examples of how our instruments are used in ceramics research. Take a look to find out more!

Ceramics       

Method

Sample

Application Note Title (Link)

Abrasives - particle shape and size

IMG

Diamond and Abrasive grains (A2O3), (SiC), SG, and CBN

Particle shape characterization for abrasive quality control

Colloidal processing - Zeta potential

ELS

Zirconia (m-ZrO2), Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), and ammonium poly(methacrylate) (APMA) in dilute KNO3

The importance of zeta potential in ceramic processing (2) Zirconia

Inclusions - elemental analysis

XRF

Mg, Al, Si, P, S, K, Ca, Ti, Fe, Zn, Zr, and Na

Practical small spot mapping. Analysis of a ceramic inclusion using SumXcore technology

Nanomaterials - elemental analysis, trace elements

XRF

Ceramic nanomaterials (TiO2 and ZnO) with catalyst residues Al, Si, P, S, Cl, Fe, Zr, Nb, and Pb

Easy, cost-effective, and non‑destructive quantification of ceramic nanomaterials

Polishing slurries - particle shape and size

IMG

Chemical-Mechanical Polishing (CMP) slurries, SiO2 or Al2O3 particles

Analysis of wire saw abrasive slurries to facilitate recycling using the FPIA-3000 automated dynamic image analysis system

Polishing slurries - Zeta potential

ELS

Chemical-Mechanical Polishing (CMP) slurries, SiO2 or Al2O3 particles

Zeta Potential Measurement of Highly Concentrated CMP Slurry Dispersions

Processing - Zeta potential

ELS

α-alumina, Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), and ammonium poly(methacrylate) (APMA)

The importance of zeta potential in ceramic processing (1) Alumina

Refractory materials - particle size

LD

Refractory suspensions (alumina, bauxite, chromite, dolomite, magnesite, silicon carbide, and zirconia mixes)

Using particle size distribution measurements to control the properties of refractory materials

Spray-dried powders - particle shape and size

IMG

Al2O3 and W-/Ni-/Fe-based spray-dried particles

Using the Morphologi to evaluate ceramic granules produced by spray drying

Metals

Despite its ancient origins, metals research and the study of metals and their refining (Metallurgy) is still advancing today. In particular, additive manufacturing is a hot topic for novel manufacturing of metallic and composite components. Understanding metals also requires an understanding of mining and refining – you can find out more about this on our Geological Sciences, Minerals and Mining page. Below, you can find application notes for our solutions in metals research – enjoy exploring!

Metals            

Method

Sample

Application Note Title (Link)

Aluminum alloy production - elemental composition

XRF

Aluminum Alloys

Zetium - Analysis of aluminum alloys

Aluminum alloys - elemental composition

XRF

Mg, Al, Si, Ti, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, Al-Si, and Al-Mg alloys

Wide-range calibration for aluminum alloys

Cadmium in lead and brass - elemental analysis

XRD

Cd and Pb in Brass

Analysis of Cd and Pb in Brass for RoHS, WEEE and ELV compliance

Cast iron - carbon content

XRF

C, Si, P, S, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Ni, Nb, and Mo in cast iron

Carbon analysis in cast iron

Cast iron - elemental analysis

XRF

Cast Iron: Fe, Si, Mn, P, S, Cr, Mo, Ni, Cu, Ti, V, Al, and Mg

Analysis of major and minor elements in cast iron

Chromium coatings on steel - layer thickness and composition

XRF

Cr coatings on steel

Zetium - Analysis of Cr coatings on steel using Stratos

Chromium/zinc coatings on steel - layer thickness and composition

XRF

Cr/Zn coatings on steel

Zetium - Analysis of Cr/Zn coatings on steel using Stratos

Copper base alloys - elemental concentration

XRF

Copper Base Alloys: Sn, Zn, Ni, Al, and Pb alloyed in Cu

Cu-base-FP - analysis of copper alloys

Copper sheet - microstructure, crystallographic texture

XRD-M

Copper sheet (rolled)

Quantification texture analysis. Preferred orientation studies on rolled copper

Ferrochrome - elemental analysis

XRF

Ferroalloys, Ferrochrome, Fe, and Cr

Analysis of FeCr alloys as fused beads using the Zetium XRF spectrometer

Ferrosilicon alloys - elemental analysis

XRF

Fe, Si, Mg, Al, P, Ca, Ti, Cr, Mn, Ni, and Cu

Zetium - Analysis of major, minor, and trace elements in ferrosilicon alloys

Ferrosilicon alloys - elemental analysis

SPE

Ferrosilicon Alloys, Ferroalloys, silicon, and iron

The Preparation of Ferrosilicon Alloys Samples for XRF analysis

Ferrosilicon manganese - elemental analysis

XRF

Ferroalloys, FeSiMn alloys

Zetium - Analysis of major, minor, and trace elements in FeSiMn alloys

Granulates - particle size

LD

Metal granulates, foil waste

Process Optimization through Online Particle Size Analysis

Inconel – additive manufacturing part quality

XRD

XRF

Metal powder and completed 3D additive manufactured components

Additive Manufacturing of Inconel 718: characterizing parts and powders

Low alloy steel - elemental analysis

XRF

Low-Alloy Steel, high strength

Zetium - Analysis of low-alloy steel

Metals sample preparation example - Fusion for XRF

SPE

Ag, Zn, Pb, Cu, and S

Determination of Silver and Volatile Elements in Metal Concentrates Samples Using Lithium Borate Fusion Followed by XRF Analysis

Ni coatings on steel - layer thickness and composition

XRF

Ni coatings on steel

Zetium - Analysis of Ni coatings on steel using Stratos

NiFeCo alloys - elemental analysis

XRF

NiFeCo alloys: Ni, Fe, Co, (Al, Si, P, S, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Cu, Zr, Nb, Mo, Ta, and W)

Zetium - NiFeCo-FP - analysis of steels, high-temperature alloys, and super alloys

Powder, additive manufacturing - overview

LD

Metal Powders

Optimizing metal powders for additive manufacturing

Powder, atomization - particle size and shape

IMG

Atomized stainless steel

Comparing metal powders from different atomization processes using automated image analysis

Refining Iron (blast furnace slag) - elemental composition

XRF

MgO, Al2O3, SiO2, P2O5, S, K2O, CaO, TiO2, MnO, and Fe in slag samples

Quick and precise analysis of major and minor components of slag samples prepared as pressed pellets

Refining Iron (direct reduced) - phase identification and quantification

XRD

Iron Ore, Direct Reduced Iron, sponge iron

Analysis of Direct Reduced Iron for rapid process control

Refining, Alumina bath - phase identification and quantification

XRD

Aluminum, alumina

Electrolytic bath analysis for aluminum industries

Refining, Alumina powder - particle size

LD

Alumina powder

Using real-time particle size analysis to optimize aluminum smelting

Refining, Iron sinter - phase identification and quantification

XRD

FeO basicity - oxides

Analysis of iron sinter by X-ray diffraction reduces CO2 emissions

Refining, Oxides - elemental composition

XRF

Oxides generally

Synthetic standard solution WROXI for the analysis of a wide range of oxides

Solder particles - particle size and shape

IMG

Solder Particles

QA/QC characterization of solder particles using the Morphologi G3 automated image analysis system

Stainless Steel production

XRF

Stainless Steel, C, Si, P, S, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, As, and Mo

Analysis of stainless steel with Axios FAST

Steel - crystallographic phase quantification

XRD

Steel and alloys of steel

State-of-the-art XRD analysis of steel and alloys

Steel - elemental analysis with spatial resolution

XRF

Ni, Cr, Mn, Mo, Si, and Fe

Small spot mapping – In situ elemental analysis of steel using SumXcore technology

Steel slab - process control, elemental analysis

XRF

Slab steel formed from continuous casting, Fe, Ni, Cr, and Mo as markers for segregation

Spot mapping - XRF as a process control tool for chemical characterization of macro-segregation occurring during continuous casting in steel

Tin coatings on steel - layer thickness and composition

XRF

Tin (Sn) coatings on Steel

Fast analysis of Sn coatings on steel using Stratos

Titanium alloys - elemental composition

XRF

Titanium Alloys

Wide-range calibration for titanium alloys

Titanium/Tin coatings on steel - layer thickness and composition

XRF

Titanium (Ti)/Tin (Sn) coatings on steel

Zetium - Analysis of thin layers of Ti/Sn coatings on steel using Stratos

Tool steel - crystallographic phase quantification

XRD

Tool steel - retained austenite

Quantitative determination of retained austenite (RA) - ASTM E975

Tool steel - elemental analysis

XRF

Tool steel - Cr, Mo, Co, V, and W

Analysis of tool steel

Weld analysis - elemental analysis

XRF

Fe, Nb, Ni, Mo, and Mn

Small spot mapping - In situ characterization of weld solidification using X-ray fluorescence

Zirconium alloy sheet - microstructure, crystallographic texture

XRD-M

Zr, Fe, and Ni - sheet used in nuclear reactor construction

ω-texture analysis on metals

Zn coatings on steel - layer thickness and composition

XRF

Zn coatings on Steel

Analysis of Zn coatings on steel using Stratos

Polymers

Polymers are studied for synthesis and chemical characterization in Chemistry and Applied Chemistry, as well as for recycling along with plastics. Using polymers in Materials Science and Engineering requires an understanding of their structure-property relationships. Below, you can explore how our analytical instruments can help with polymer research. Take a look to find out more!

Polymers

Method

Sample

Application Note Title (Link)

Aluminum coatings on polymer film - elemental analysis

XRF

Al coatings on thin polymer films

Analysis of Al coatings on thin polymer films using Stratos

Beads - particle size and shape

MDRS

Polymer beads

Characterizing the Monodispersity of Polymer Beads Using the Morphologi G3 automated image analysis system

Catalyst residues - elemental analysis

XRF

Catalyst residues in polymer defects (aluminum, titanium, phosphorus, and calcium)

Fast small spot elemental mapping of defects in polymeric samples

Flow Injection - molecular weight, intrinsic viscosity

GPC

Polypropylene (pp), ethylene-propylene rubber (EPR), and in xylene

Flow Injection Polymer Analysis for the measurement of Xylene Solubles

Inclusions in molded polymer - elemental analysis

XRF

Titanium (Ti) in polypropylene (PP) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE)

Zetium - Analysis of sub-ppm level titanium in polyolefins using a ZETA technology-chromium anode X-ray tube

Paper - elemental analysis

XRF

Silicon on paper

Quick and accurate determination of silicon on paper in only 30 seconds

Paper-making fluids - Zeta potential

ELS

Stocks and additives, pulp, effluent, (Alum, Starch, and ash)

Zeta potential and paper manufacture

Polycaprolactone - molecular weight

GPC

Polycaprolactone (PCL)

Understanding and minimizing polycaprolactone degradation during processing using multi-detector GPC and rheology

Polyethylene and polypropylene - elemental analysis

XRF

Polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP)

Rapid and easy identification of polyolefin types using FingerPrint software

Polyethylene and polypropylene, trace elements - elemental analysis

XRF

Mg, Al, P, Ca, Ti, and Zn in polymers (polyethylene and polypropylene)

Zetium - Trace element analysis of Mg, Al, P, Ca, Ti, and Zn in polymers using Zetium

Polyethylene stretched - crystal structure analysis

XRD

Polyethylene (PE) stretched

2D SAXS / WAXS measurements on the Empyrean

Polyethylene, trace elements - elemental analysis

XRF

Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Br, Cd, Ba, Hg, and Pb in polyethylene

Zetium - Analysis of toxic heavy elements (Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Br, Cd, Ba, Hg, and Pb) in polyethylene using TOXEL standards

Polymers for fire protection - degradation, bromination

GPC

Linear polystyrene and brominated polystyrene

Brominated and surface fluorinated polymers

Polymers for fire protection - elemental analysis

XRF

Halogenated compounds (for example, tetrabromobisphenol) and antimony trioxide in Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) resins

Zetium - Analysis of flame retardants (Sb and Br) in Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) resins

Polymers, optimization for end-use – molecular weight, intrinsic viscosity

GPC

Polystyrene (PS), polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), polycarbonate (PC), and polyvinylchloride (PVC)

Understanding the effect of polymer structure on its bulk properties: How to optimize for end-use application

Polymers, toxins, and safety - elemental analysis

XRF

Lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, and bromine in polymers

Polymer analysis in accordance with ASTM F2617-15 using TOXEL and RoHS Calibration standards

Polyolefins, toxins, and safety - elemental analysis

XRF

Cr, Br, Cd, Pb, Hg, As, Sb, Sn, and Zn in polyolefins

RoHS-2 small spot analysis of polyolefins in compliance with ASTM F2617-15

Polyolefins, toxins, and safety - elemental analysis

XRF

Cr, Br, Cd, Pb, Hg, As, Sb, Sn, and Zn in polyolefins

ROHS-3/WEEE/ELV analysis of polyolefins in accordance with ASTM F2617-15

Polypropylene film - crystal lattice expansion with temperature

XRD

Polypropylene film

In situ SAXS measurements at variable temperature

Polyvinyl chloride, toxins, and safety - elemental analysis

XRF

Cd and Pb in polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

Zetium - Analysis of Cd and Pb in polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

Recycling - elemental analysis

XRF

RoHS elements: Cr, Br, Hg, Pb, and Cd in Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS) and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

RoHS & WEEE compliance: Analysis of Poly Vinyl Chloride and Acrylonitrile-Butadiene Styrene polymers

Abbreviations explained

Our products and technologies are described on the Products pages. Below you can find a quick reference to the properties measured by our instruments, together with the measurement name and its abbreviation. Click on each method to find out more about it! 

Abbreviation

Method Name

Instrument(s)

Measured Property

DLS

Dynamic light scattering

Zetasizer

Molecular size, hydrodynamic radius RH,  particle size, size distribution, stability, concentration, agglomeration

ELS

Electrophoretic light scattering

Zetasizer

Zeta potential, particle charge, suspension stability, protein mobility

ITC

Iso-thermal calorimetry

MicroCal  ITC

Binding affinity, thermodynamics of molecular reactions in solution

DSC

Differential scanning calorimetry

Microcal DSC

Denaturing (unfolding) of large molecules, stability of macromolecules

IMG

Automated Morphological Imaging

Morphologi 4

Imaging of particles, automated shape and size measurement

MDRS

Morphologically directed Raman spectroscopy

Morphologi 4-ID

Imaging of particles, automated shape and size measurement, chemical identification and contaminant detection

LD

Laser diffraction

Mastersizer

Spraytec

Insitec

Parsum

Particle size, size distribution

NTA

Nanoparticle tracking analysis

NanoSight

Particle size, size distribution, and concentration

SEC or GPC

Size exclusion chromatography /

Gel permeation chromatography

OMNISEC

Molecular size, molecular weight, oligomeric state, polymer or protein size and molecular structure

SPE

Sample preparation by fusion

Le Neo

LeDoser

Eagon 2

The OxAdvanced

M4

rFusion

Fused Bead Sample preparation for XRF, Peroxide solution preparations for ICP, Flux weighing for beadmaking

UV/Vis/NIR/ SWIR

Ultra-violet / visible / near infra-red / short wave infra-red spectrometry

LabSpec

FieldSpec

TerraSpec

QualitySpec

Material identification and analysis, moisture, mineral, carbon content. Ground truthing for airborne and satellite spectroscopic techniques.

PFTNA

Pulsed fast thermal neutron activation

CNA

In-line elemental analysis

XRD-C

X-ray diffraction (crystallography)

Aeris

Empyrean

Molecular crystal structure refinement,

crystalline phase identification and quantification, crystalline to amorphous ratio, crystallite size analysis

XRD-M

X-ray diffraction (microstructure)

Empyrean

X’Pert3 MRD(XL)

Residual stress, texture

XRD-CT

X-ray absorption imaging by computed tomography

Empyrean

3D imaging of solids, porosity, and density

SAXS

Small-angle X-ray scattering

Empyrean

Nanoparticles, size, shape and structure

GISAXS

Glancing incidence small-angle X-ray scattering

Empyrean

Nanostructured thin films and surfaces

HR-XRD

High-resolution X-ray diffraction

Empyrean

X’Pert3 MRD(XL)

Thin-films and epitaxial multilayers, composition, strain, thickness, quality

XRR

X-ray reflectometry

Empyrean

X’Pert3 MRD(XL)

Thin films and surfaces, film thickness, surface and interface roughness

XRF

X-ray fluorescence

Epsilon

Zetium

Axios FAST

2830 ZT

Elemental composition, elemental concentration, trace elements, contaminant detection