In several project of engineering character we have been able to give our clients visual data regarding the state of their products’ surfaces, on the nanoscale. It is at surfaces that things happen and sometimes that event is what our clients are after and sometimes it is what needs to be counteracted.
One of the starting points is to look at the surfaces with AFM to get a picture of the surface structure and possible deposition. In one project the desired result is a homogeneous surface while in another project the client’s process should have led to a surface covered with nanosize particles. In any case, we provide an objective picture of the situation which can be used as a true starting point. Because of the high value of the images in the continued work and also since the images can be used to explain and communicate what is going on, we use AFM and electron microscopy routinely.
Another surface characterization technique that is very common to use in the engineering projects is contact angle measurements which in our case also is a visualization technique. With this, the surface energy is summarized in the shape of a drop deposited on the surface. This is an essential handle to have when working with surfaces as the wettability of the surface is key for understanding and modeling behavior in contact with the surface.