Dr Yang Liu and Tim Searle of Composite Innovations Ltd who has used the FIB-SEM to gather objective information that has led to crucial process innovations for the company and their customers, through the Plymouth Materials Characterisation Project.

What is analysis and materials characterisation?

Modern product design and the development of new materials demand sophisticated methods for material characterisation and analysis. These must be applied in parallel with manufacturing processes, quality control or failure investigation processes.

The increasing miniaturisation of components and products, as well as recent developments in nanotechnology, put high demands on the ability to analyse very small amounts of sample material, with high spatial resolution.

The University of Plymouth is extremely well equipped for analysis and materials characterisation. We have the expertise and equipment to assist with problems related to polymers, ceramics and hard metals, metallic alloys and composite materials in areas such as:

Imaging: materials and components can be examined at magnifications from 1x to 1,000,000x using normal light, electron, confocal laser scanning and atomic force microscopes. These are operated via sophisticated software packages with a high level of analytical capability and file exportability. Available functions include x-ray spectroscopy for element analysis, 3D surface metrology and stereo imaging.

Microstructural characterisation: a wide range of metallic and nonmetallic materials can be prepared for micro structural characterisation. This includes automated microhardness measurements as well as image analysis of inclusions, and second phase particles.

Mechanical property testing: standard tests can be performed to determine Charpy impact energy, tensile properties, fatigue properties and fracture toughness. Capability exists for photoelastic stress analysis and finite element modelling.

What are the benefits to you/your organisation?

Is an accurate knowledge of materials properties vital for your organisation? 

Do you have the capability for fast analysis of design quality control and failure issues? Then we can help.

The production of parts, components and structures uses thousands of metallic alloys and other materials along with a wide variety of manufacturing and fabrication processes and requires highly skilled multidisciplinary teams to understand the subtleties of modern materials and their composition-structure-process performance interactions.

You may not have the resources to do this. We do. We're well-placed to provide high-level expertise and access to sophisticated facilities.

How does it work?

Get in touch to discuss your requirements and we'll work with you to identify and solve your problem by introducing the appropriate academic and technical expertise. Several exploratory meetings may be necessary to reach this stage and there are several possible routes to deal with your analysis and characterisation needs. These include:

  • bespoke analysis and materials characterisation consultancies with defined outputs
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs)
  • contract research projects.

How much will it cost?

There's no cost involved in any initial discussions and we'll always be clear about our capability, facilities and delivery times. If the decision is taken to go ahead with work, a full description of the proposed work and a detailed quote will be sent to you before we start work. There's no obligation until you've signed and returned the quote to us.

Are you eligible?

If you need help with materials analysis or testing, you're eligible. Contact us to discuss how we can meet your needs.