The field of materials science handles the correlation between the surface and mechanical properties of a material. The microstructure of components greatly influences the properties, including wear, fatigue, and corrosive resistance.
Alicona’s InfiniteFocus measurement system is used at the National University of Malaysia to measure the size, texture, and shape of different materials. These data are helpful in determining which surface features affect which material properties.
Role of Alicona at the National University of Malaysia
Correlating the surface structure with performance is the area of focus for researchers at the Institute of Microengineering and Nanoelectronics (IMEN) of the National University of Malaysia. They are particularly interested in designing more resilient materials by extrapolating characteristics such as corrosivity, wear resistance, fatigue, and stress through the use of texture, shape, and size of surface features on many different materials, including metals, polymers, ceramics, semiconductors, metal alloys, and composites.
The research team was previously using confocal microscopes or profilometers that limited its scope of work. However, with Alicona’s InfiniteFocus measurement device, the researchers are now able to perform more comprehensive material surface characterization. Azman Jalar, IMEN Deputy Director and Senior Research Fellow, is happy about the increased surface analysis capabilities at the materials research laboratory.
Before I worked with Alicona, I struggled with my analysis tools. Neither my confocal microscope nor the 2D profilometer could adequately measure polished metal surfaces or silicon wafers. With our InfiniteFocus system, I have a reliable surface quantification tool that perfectly suits my research area. In our lab, it has become standard practice to quantify surface characteristics with Alicona’s Focus-Variation.
Dr. Azman Jalar, Deputy Director, Institute of Microengineering and Nanoelectronics, National University of Malaysia
Understanding Corrosion Fatigue
While IMEN research covers a wide range of topics, roughness measurements are one of the key capabilities of Alicona’s InfiniteFocus system. Profile-based surface texture (Sa, Sq, Sz) and roughness (Ra, Rq, Rz) measurements can also be performed using the Alicona system. This is achieved with areal measurement, fractal dimension analysis, and bearing area curve. The functionality of the surface and quantitative corrosion or defect analysis can be completely understood with these measurements.
InfiniteFocus uses 3D data for corrosion determination and analysis as opposed to other techniques that only carry out a 2D classification of corroded regions (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Automated corrosion detection with InfiniteFocus. Parameters of all defects are tabulated.
Alicona’s InfiniteFocus system is specially engineered for performing corrosion analysis over larger scan areas of up to 200 x 200 mm, providing corrosion measurements easily and rapidly. It yields traceable and highly repeatable measurements with high resolution, providing IMEN with the capability to correlate the surface structure to the properties of a material. The data provided by the Alicona system is a true color visualization of the surface of interest, facilitating the determination and corroboration of defects or corrosion on the surface of a material. The InfiniteFocus system is designed to handle a variety of sample sizes, surface condition, and materials.
“We investigate a variety of sample shapes and sizes including components with cylindrical or arbitrary form. For example, to measure our curved metal plates, I can easily acquire a high-resolution 3D dataset and then remove the form to accurately analyze surface structure detail independently,” says Azman Jalar about the flexible use of his InfiniteFocus system. Cutting-edge corrosion analyses can be carried out on materials of different compositions and surface finishes, including stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, and nickel alloys (Figures 3 and 4).
Figure 3. 3D measurement of a corroded aluminum plate, also showing channels. Users can perform automatic defect detection.
Figure 4. 3D measurement of a curved metal plate. Form removal enables accurate roughness measurement on components.
Alicona systems have found many different applications in the field of materials science:
- Scientific research in tribology, corrosion, fracturing, and much more
- 3D surface measurement of metal alloys, composites, polymers, ceramics, metals, and semiconductors
- Establishing a correlation between functional behavior of solid materials and surface parameters
- 3D measurement of surface texture measurement, profile roughness, and volume measurements such as bearing area curve and fractal dimension
Azman Jalar concludes that “With Alicona, I have a powerful measurement tool for research investigations in materials science. It allows me to extrapolate which surface feature of my material causes which behavior. The measurement device is applicable to all materials in my research area including metals, semiconductors, ceramics, polymer, composites, and metal alloys. It is also highly intuitive to use and does not require high training effort.”
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Alicona Imaging GmbH.
For more information on this source, please visit Alicona Imaging GmbH.