Light microscopy is used to obtain a series of digital images of the sample in transmission or reflection mode at up to 90x.aMicroscopic techniques provide the means to study and characterize the micro and nano-structural features of polymers, composites and products. Optical Microscopy (OM) uses visible light to magnify a sample area 10-1000x. The light microscopy technique is often the first one to be used for visual characterization before any of the additional microscopy testing instruments. The advanced magnification offered by electron microscopy can be used to obtain chemical and physical information about a polymer’s structural features. A wide range of advanced microscopy techniques including scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and FTIR-microscopy apply spectroscopy methods and image analysis to extract detailed information about morphological characteristics to assist in product development, address processing issues, or resolve contamination.
These techniques are particularly powerful during polymer failure investigations where study of surfaces, layer thickness in composite samples, and cross-sections of failed components can assist in determination of the root cause of a failure.
In order to resolve contamination issues, combinations of microscopy techniques are used to reveal elemental composition in unwanted structure or morphology that can be related to visible properties. SEM is often combined with energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX) to explore the spatial elemental composition.
In summary, the applications of microscopy include:
- Analyzing the porosity of a coating,
- Determining the uniform distribution of filler components in a composite sample
- Measuring the layer thickness of multi-layer products
- Contamination analysis
- Comparison studies with competitor’s product
- Investigate product failure analysis