Analyzing the surface of materials takes X-ray vision.
Studying a material’s surface is hardly superficial. Surfaces are the interface between a material’s chemical, physical makeup and the rest of the world — knowing how a surface responds to its environment is crucial.
Consider a biomedical implant device. Knowing how the alloy or polymer responds to biological tissue can mean the difference between successful recovery or multiple surgeries for a patient. Likewise, a surface coating on the metallic components of a vehicle affects how long it takes rust to wear through. And even geologists studying ancient rocks can use data from the surface of samples to learn more about how the Earth’s mountains and landscapes formed.
To do so, researchers peer into the surface chemistry of materials using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). At Michigan Technological University, the Applied Chemical and Morphological Analysis Laboratory (ACMAL) delves into surfaces with a PHI 5800 XPS. The machine is equipped with a dual-source anode using aluminum and magnesium, an ion sputter gun for depth profiling and stage tilting for angle-resolved XPS. The equipment also relies on a hemispherical analyzer for XPS and Auger electron spectroscopy (AES) analysis, which reveals details about the elements in a sample such as their oxidation state or chemical environment.
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.