Surface Science Western (SSW)

The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario
What the facility does

Consulting and research ISO 17025 accreditated analytical laboratory specializing in the analysis and characterization of surfaces and materials

Areas of expertise

Founded in 1981, Surface Science Western (SSW) is an internationally recognized leader in the field of surface analysis and materials characterization. SSW has successfully served high-profile clients across a range of industry sectors including: manufacturing, automotive, energy, mineral resources, health services, aerospace, environmental, electronics, polymer, and plastics. In servicing a vast range of clients, from small manufacturing facilities to industrial giants, SSW has garnered a solid reputation for quality, innovation and timely service.

Along with the 250 people-years of experience and unparalleled interpretive skills of our researchers, SSW is also one of Canada’s best-equipped laboratories for surface and materials analysis. An ISO 17025 accreditated laboratory located at the Discovery Research Park at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, SSW provides clients with direct and convenient access to highly skilled and experienced professionals as well as state-of-the-art analytical techniques.

Research services

Materials characterization, material and corrosion failure analysis, analytical testing, surface analysis, quality control testing, defect analysis, product development, consulting, paint defect analysis, adhesion failure analysis, polymer characterization, microplastics identification, minerology, mineral process separation optimization, weathering and salt spray chamber exposures, electrochemical testing, contract R&D, HQP training

Sectors of application
  • Automotive
  • Chemical industries
  • Energy (renewable and fossil)
  • Manufacturing and processing
  • Mining, minerals and metals

Equipment

Function

Cameca IMS-3f SIMS

  • Dynamic SIMS – Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry
  • Provides trace level (ppm for most elements and ppb for others) elemental and isotopic analysis of very small volumes situated on the surface of solid samples

Cameca IMS-6f SIMS

  • Dynamic SIMS – Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry
  • Provides trace level (ppm) elemental and isotopic analysis of very small volumes situated on the surface of solid samples

IONTOF TOF-SIMS IV

  • TOF-SIMS – Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry
  • Equipped with Bi+, Bi3+, Bi3++, Cs+ and C60+ ion sources
  • Provides near-surface elemental and composition information. Can detect molecular fragments as big as 10000 a.m.u.

Hitachi Regulus SU8230 Ultra-High Resolution Field Emission SEM

 

Bruker XFlash FQ5060 Annular Quad EDX detector

 

Bruker XFlash 6160 EDX detector

  • SEM/EDX – Scanning Electron Microscopy combined with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy, Low Voltage EDX and scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM)
  • Provides high resolution images of surface topography and excellent depth of field. Can detect features as small as a fraction of a nanometer.
  • EDX spectroscopy provides semi-quantitative composition of all elements from carbon to uranium present in the area analyzed. EDX probes the sample outer surface to a depth of a few μm.

Hitachi SU3500 VP-SEM combined with an Oxford Instruments AZtec X-Max50 SDD X-ray analyzer

  • SEM/EDX – Scanning Electron Microscopy combined with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy
  • VP-SEM – Variable Pressure Scanning Electron Microscope
  • SDD – Analytical Silicon Drift Detector

Hitachi SU3900 Large Chamber VP-SEM combined with an Oxford Instruments ULTIM MAX 65 SDD X-ray analyzer

  • SEM/EDX – Scanning Electron Microscopy combined with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy
  • VP-SEM – Variable Pressure Scanning Electron Microscope
  • SDD – Analytical Silicon Drift Detector

 

Kratos AXIS Supra XPS Spectrometer

 

  • XPS – X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy
  • Provides surface-sensitive (5-9 nm) elemental composition and chemical nature of the elements present on the sample surface.
  • Equipped with gas cluster ion source (GCIS), heat/cool stage, and in-situ fracture system

Kratos AXIS Nova XPS Spectrometer

  • XPS – X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy
  • Provides surface-sensitive (5-9 nm) elemental composition and chemical nature of the elements present on the sample surface.

Renishaw inVia Reflex Raman microscope

  • Laser Raman spectroscopy provides information on the chemical nature of inorganic and some organic molecules from areas as small as 1 μm in diameter. Laser is transparent to glass, hence Raman is amenable to in-situ measurements.
  • Three wavelengths available: 785nm, 633nm and 514nm and two gratings, 1800 and 1200 l/mm. Also equipped with polarizer and half waveplate for each laser.

Physical Electronics PHI 710 Scanning Auger Nanoprobe

  • SAM/AES – Scanning Auger Microprobe/Auger Electron Spectroscopy
  • This technique provides elemental composition information from very small (~ 10 to 20 nm) areas. The near-surface (~ 2-3 nm) nature of the Auger electrons enables the analysis of much smaller than that would be possible with SEM/EDX. Elemental composition, some chemical bonding information, depth profiling (composition as a function of depth into the material), line scans, small spot analysis, and elemental intensity mapping capabilities are available.

KLA Tencor P-17 Stylus Profiler

  • Surface Profilometry
  • Measures the surface topographical features (surface roughness) by maintaining a selectable constant contact force so that the stylus has to go up and down according to the surface profile

Park Systems XE-100 AFM

  • Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)
  • Can be operated in air or water, uses a fine tip (apex radius ~10 nm) to map surface morphology and mechanical and chemical properties through an interaction between the tip and surface. Almost all materials can be measured without specific sample preparations.

Bruker Tensor II FTIR system with Hyperion 2000 microscope

  • Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy
  • An incident infrared light is absorbed at specific frequencies representing the vibrations of bonds or groups in the molecule present on the sample surface. FTIR provides information on the nature of organic molecules and some inorganic molecules present on the area analyzed.

Keyence VHX-6000 Digital Microscope



 

  • Optical Microscopy
  • Our three optical microscopes, capable of magnifications ranging from 6.5 X to 1000 X, are interfaced to a high-resolution colour digital camera that allow capture of digital images.
  • Examining samples by optical microscopy aids in determining which technique will be the most suitable if further analysis is required.

Zeiss Axioplan Compound Microscope (interfaced with a Keyence VHX-950F Digital Microscope)

  • 3D microscope
  • Optical Microscopy
  • Our three optical microscopes, capable of magnifications ranging from 6.5 X to 1000 X, are interfaced to a high-resolution colour digital camera that allow capture of digital images
  • Examining samples by optical microscopy aids us in determining which technique will be the most suitable if further analysis is required

Zeiss SteREO Discovery.V8 stereomicroscope interfaced with a Keyence VHX-950F Digital Microscope

  • 3D microscope
  • Optical Microscopy
  • Our three optical microscopes, capable of magnifications ranging from 6.5 X to 1000 X, are interfaced to a high-resolution colour digital camera that allow capture of digital images
  • Examining samples by optical microscopy aids us in determining which technique will be the most suitable if further analysis is required

LECO LM-100 Microindentation Hardness Tester

  • Microhardness Testing
  • Our hardness tester uses an elongated Knoop or Vickers indentor which can be used to measure the microhardness of metals, thin metal films and surface layers such as nitrided, carburized, and case hardened layers.

 

Solartron ModuLab XM ECS precision potentiostats and frequency response analyzers

  • Corrosion and Electrochemistry
  • Working in collaboration with the sister laboratory in the Department of Chemistry at Western, we will be able to perform a number of electrochemical tests to meet the client’s needs. We can work on the short-term consulting projects and are also well-equipped to undertake long-term research projects using specialized electrochemical techniques.

Solartron 1260 Frequency Response Analyser (FRA)

 

Solartron 1287 Potentiostat

 

Kruss DSA30E Drop Shape Analyzer

  • Contact Angle Goniometry
  • The angle at which a liquid interface meets a solid surface is called the contact angle. Measurement of contact angle will yield information on the surface tension, wettability, and other parameters.

Q-FOG CRH Cyclic Corrosion Tester

 

  • Weathering Chambers
  • These chambers can simulate the degradation of materials when exposed to the de-icing salts, sunlight, and UV light in the presence of humidity, wet, and dry conditions.

Q-SUN Xe-3 Xenon Arc Test Chamber  

 

QUV/Spray Accelerated Weathering Chamber

 

 

Mettler Toledo DSC 3

Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) is used to measure enthalpy changes due to changes in the physical and chemical properties of a material as a function of temperature or time. This method allows you to identify or compare materials and to characterize them with regard to their structure or use.

Mettler Toledo TGA 2

Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) measures the mass of a sample while the sample is heated or cooled in a defined atmosphere. The main use of TGA is to characterize materials with regard to their composition.

Zeiss LSM 800 for materials with Zeiss Axio Imager.Z2m upright compound microscope

  • Confocal Laser Scanning Microscope (CLSM)
  • The applications of the instrument cover roughness/waviness estimation, and step height measurements. By scanning an area or montaging together many areas, a three-dimensional topographic image of the surface can be produced, and two-dimensional profiles can be isolated from this for analysis.

Zeiss Xradia 410 Versa

  • X-Ray Micro Computed Tomography (Micro-CT)
  • Similar to a hospital CAT scanning system, Micro Computed Tomography (MicroCT) is a non-destructive 3D imaging technique (4D with time-based measurements) that uses a highly energetic X-ray beam to create a series of 2D projections, whose greyscales vary with the volume’s internal density and atomic number variations. These projections are reconstructed to create a virtual 3D model, allowing users to “see” inside the sample without preparing, sectioning or destroying the sample.

Rigaku SmartLab 3kW X-ray Diffractometer

X-ray Diffraction (XRD) is an analytical technique used to identify phases in a wide variety of crystalline materials, such as minerals, corrosion products, thin films, bulk materials and polymers. This instrument can also be used to measure the thicknesses of very thin films, and residual stress/strain present in the materials. Solid as well as powder samples can be analyzed.