Measurement of coatings and thin films can be undertaken by a range of methods. The most appropriate choice will depend on a number of factors including, among others, the compositions of the coating / substrate, expected film or coating thickness.

The following examples are provided for illustration purposes. Please contact us to discuss the most appropriate method for your requirements.

 

Ball Cratering / Calotte Grinding

In this technique a rotating abrasive sphere is used to mill a crater through the coating and into the substrate. Measurement of the crater dimensions is used to calculate the coating thickness:

Ball CrateringUseful for single layer, thicker coatings where reasonable contrast exists between the coating and substrate under optical microscopy. Also, buried layers and interfaces can be analysed chemically by SIMS.

 

Dynamic SIMS Depth Profiling

Dynamic SIMS provides a good means of comparing thin coatings on similar substrates. Absolute coating thickness measurements can be provided using reference coatings of known thickness.

SIMS DP

Dynamic SIMS can provide compositional-versus- depth information on thin multi-layered coatings, including interface / interphase structures from boundaries between layers.

 

UV-VIS-NIR Spectroscopy

The thickness of flat films / coatings can be determined by measurement of interference fringes created by radiation reflected from the front and rear surfaces of the sample.

UV-VIS-NIR

Calculation of Film Thickness is made by measurement of the frequency (f) of the interference fringes. For successful thickness measurement, films / coatings need to be defect-free and transparent at an appropriate radiation wavelength.

 

Microtomy / Microscopy

Cross-sections of multi-layered films, fibres and particles can imaged by optical and / or electron microscopy (SEM) to provide layer thickness, interface / interphase and composition information with depth.

Taper Sectioning and subsequent analysis of the exposed surface can be applied to a wide range of multi-layered materials.

X-section1

 X-section2

Microtomy and Spectroscopic Analysis

 

Microtomed sections (slices) can be analysed individually by a range of techniques including SIMS and infra-red and Raman spectroscopies. This process is effective for thicker multi-layered organic and polymeric materials.

Xsection analysis