Using Spectroscopy in Engineering and Materials Science

Material science and engineering involves the design and discovery of novel materials. This discipline integrates the work of chemistry, physics, engineering with ceramics, metallurgy, nanotechnology, biomaterials amongst many others.

The comprehension of processing methods, physical and chemical structure, and the properties or behavior of materials is the heart of the materials paradigm. Numerous historical examples of scientific progress have been limited by the availability of materials so that breakthroughs in material science are often followed by advances in other areas of research.

Material science can debatably be considered the oldest example of engineering and applied science. In fact, material sciences are so significant that we often categorize historic periods by the material discoveries of the age: the stone age, bronze age, iron age, and what could today be considered the silicon age. Material science is accountable for discoveries of rubbers, plastics, semiconductors, and biomaterials to give just a few examples.

Spectroscopy has several uses in material science, from material identification to process and quality controls. Raman spectroscopy can provide understanding of crystalline alignment, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy is utilized to identify atomic composition, and emission monitoring spectroscopy analyzes plasma composition during chemical deposition processes. Avantes spectrometers are there, trusted around the world to deliver accurate spectral measurements for material scientists.

Graphene Breakthroughs

Graphene is a semi-metallic material consisting of a single layer of carbon molecules in a hexagonal grid arrangement and is the base structural element of other carbon-based materials such as graphite, diamonds, and carbon nanotubes.

Graphene has several unusual and unique properties. It is so thin that it is considered two dimensional, yet it is the strongest material ever discovered. Graphene is also a zero-band gap semiconductor with an astonishing opacity for an atomic monolayer material. Due to this unique property, the light emitting capacity is restricted and pristine graphene is unlikely to be a candidate for light emitting devices.

Conversely, graphene derivatives like oxidized graphene, graphene quantum dots and carbon nanotubes have been seen to emit broadband white light emissions when subjected to focused infrared irradiation in a vacuum.

Graphene Foam

Graphene foam is created using chemical vapor deposition (CVD) which creates self-assembled sheets of oxidized graphene placed on a three-dimensional mesh of metal filaments before the metal is removed. The resulting graphene foam is resilient and returns to its original shape after compression.

It is also capable of supporting 3,000 times its weight. This mechanical strength, flexibility and elasticity mean this light-weight, high-conductive material is an excellent candidate for numerous engineering applications.

The conductivity of graphene foam is being investigated for the development of flexible batteries with greater energy density than standard commercially available batteries. Another likely usage is in chemical sensing with the ability to detect 20 parts-per-million of Nitrogen Dioxide.

Laser Induced White Light Emission

Researchers at the Polish Academy of Sciences, from the departments of Low Temperature and Structure Research and Spectroscopy of Excited States, probed the light emission capacity of graphene foams.

Following related research into light emission from irradiated quantum dots and induced incandescence of carbon nanotubes, researchers were able to achieve white light emission from graphene foam irradiated with a sustained, focused, continuous-wave infrared laser diode.

These Laser-Induced White light Emission (LIWE) tests achieved white light emissions with sustained excitation using a 975 nm continuous wave laser diode in a vacuum chamber. This light emission from the graphene foam placed in an integrating sphere under vacuum was restricted to the dimensions of the focal point of the excitation laser but demonstrated stable light characteristics that increased in intensity with a corresponding increase in laser power density.

Spectrometer Utility

These researchers employed Avantes instrumentation during experimentation to measure the photoluminescence response of the graphene foam.  While an older instrument was used in the original research, the new AvaSpec-ULS2048CL-EVO would be a perfect instrument for this application.

Additionally, spectroscopy could be employed in the chemical deposition process for graphene foam fabrication for end point detection and process control, and morphology or crystallinity can be distinguished using Raman spectroscopy methods.

In the study of materials, one of the key principles is that the structure at an atomic level determines the behavior of the material on a macro scale. Spectroscopy gives scientists in this arena the tools they require to develop the cutting-edge materials of the future.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Avantes BV.

For more information on this source, please visit Avantes BV.

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