Optical and electron microscopy and polymer expert analysis helps to determine the structure and properties of materials, composites and products

Microscopy analysis of polymers provides a means to study and characterize the micro and nano-structural features of polymers, composites and products. The magnification offered by optical or electron microscopy can be used to obtain chemical and physical information about a polymer’s structural features. This is essential as it provides insight which can be related to the performance of the material.

Intertek experts use optical and electron microscopy to support new material research and development, to process and property optimization, to investigate polymer morphology and microstructure, composites structure, failure analysis, degradation and a wide array of problem solving, for example with issues such as microbeads

We provide comprehensive adhesives analysis, and in-depth thermal analysis, providing valuable insight into ways in which polymer structure changes with temperature, using DSC and TGA instruments

With polymer laboratories equipped with a range of advanced techniques which include optical microscopy, confocal scanning microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and hot-stage microscopy, our experts apply image analysis to extract detailed information about morphological characteristics to bring the insight you need to make decisions concerning product development, to address processing issues or to resolve contamination.

These techniques are particularly powerful during polymer failure investigations where study of surfaces and cross sections of a failed component can assist in determination of  the root cause of failure. Through scanning electron microscopy approaches our team generate high-resolution images to explore crystalline or other ordered structures to achieve detailed and precise measurement. Combining SEM with energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDAX) we explore the spatial elemental composition. 

Our polymer scientists apply microscopy techniques to measure the thickness of polymers layers or coatings in a multilayer sample, or assess the uniformity of material and distribution of filler components or pigments in a sample. 

In order to resolve contamination issues our we often apply combinations  of microscopy techniques to reveal minute detailed morphological information that can be related to sub-standard performance or unwanted structural or visible properties, helping you to resolve problems rapidly.

    Intertek Microscopy Techniques

    Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) Analysis of Polymers

    Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) is a powerful tool for analyzing polymers and understanding their structure, morphology, and properties. Polymers, vital in various applications, possess unique characteristics based on their composition and formulation. SEM aids in the examination of these characteristics at a microstructural level.

    SEM provides detailed, high-resolution images of polymer surfaces, revealing information about surface roughness, particle distribution, porosity, and phase separation. The technique allows for the observation of morphological features such as cracks, fractures, and deformations, which is invaluable when investigating polymer failure or aging issues.

    In the realm of quality control, SEM helps verify if a polymer product aligns with its intended application by assessing its morphology. Whether evaluating the uniformity of a polymer film, the dispersion of additives, or the integrity of a composite material, SEM ensures compliance with design specifications.

    Moreover, SEM's versatility enables additional analyses, like energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), to determine the elemental composition of the sample, further enhancing the understanding of the polymer's composition and aiding in quality assessment. In summary, SEM is an indispensable tool for researchers and engineers seeking to optimize polymer formulations and troubleshoot performance-related challenges in polymer-based applications.

    Your Polymer Microscopy Analysis Partner

    With over 30 years of experience supporting the polymer and related industries, our polymer scientists study polymer composites, fibres, coatings, co-polymers, particulate analysis, gels, moulded or extruded plastic components and thin films.

      Clients from a wide range of industries - such as automotive, medical device, consumer products, electronics, packaging, building products and more - regard Intertek as a trusted service provider for polymer microscopy testing, and with the proven ability to further our clients' goals.

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