Be Brief: Surface

By Allison Mills | Published

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.

629 Electron Optics Lab (Applied Chemical and Morphological Analysis Lab) M&M 360

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.

Last Modified 10:48 a.m. April, 22 2019