Contamination and Corrosion Identification

Contamination problems – a major focus at PhotoMetrics – are a substantial concern in a variety of manufacturing industries, including electronics, optics, and medical devices.  Foreign materials can ruin performance, prevent adhesion, produce corrosion, or simply cause cosmetic issues.

We routinely identify contaminants and track down their sources, using a combination of energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, optical microscopy,scanning auger microanalysis (SAM), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM).  Typical examples include:

  • Particle inclusions in molded parts or films
  • Particles filtered from solutions
  • Contaminating polymers in reground thermoplastics
  • Oils on surfaces that prevent bonding or coating
  • Oxidized or degraded material
  • Surface “blooms” in plastics and rubbers
  • Corrosive flux residues
  • Particulates in clean rooms and other areas that demand high cleanliness
  • Excesses or incomplete blending of additives, such as flame retardants and UV inhibitors in plastics
  • Formation of oxide layers on metal surfaces that prevent soldering or bonding
  • Surface discoloration of metals

Common questions related to contamination and corrosion identification:

  • What makes you think the part is contaminated?
  • Do you have an example of a part that has what you’d think of as a “normal” appearance so we can generate a control analysis?
  • Can you remove the “contamination” with isopropyl alcohol (IPA) or acetone?
  • Can you remove the contamination with an eraser?
  • Can you disturb the contamination with a probe under a stereoscope?
  • If you disturb the film by eraser, does the “problem” go away?