Materials Testing and Characterisation

NNL has extensive experience in providing customers with a materials testing and characterisation service. We offer a wide range of testing and analytical techniques to ensure we are able to meet all our customers' needs.

Our Service

NNL offers customers a range of tests, including:          

  • BET surface area analysis. This is used to determine the specific surface areas of powders, solids and granules. Calculated values are expressed in m2 g-1. Our 'Micromeritics' can use krypton gas which enables us to test very low surface area materials
  • Skeletal/Envelope volume and porosity. NNL use two instruments, the 'Accupyc II 1340' gas pycnometer and the 'Geopyc 1360' pycnometer to enable accurate measurements to be made on test materials. Used in conjunction with each other, it is possible to determine the total pore volume and percent porosity of a solid body
  • Powder X-ray diffraction (Powder XRD). Using a Philips XPert XRD instrument. A rapid, non-destructive analytical technique normally applied to the characterisation of crystalline materials. We are also able to test reactive and air-sensitive samples by XRD using a special sample holder equipped with 'kapton' x-ray film to effectively contain the test sample
  • Particle size distribution (PSD). This can be determined using a Malvern Mastersizer 2000 particle size analyser. This well established instrumental technique uses laser diffraction to measure the size of particles; this is done by measuring the intensity of light scattered as a laser beam passes through a dispersed particulate sample. Data is then analysed to calculate the size of particles that created the scattering pattern observed
  • Rheology (shear stress/strain, viscosity, viscoelastic). Measurements usually applied to sludge samples and suspensions of solids in liquids
  • Elemental analysis of samples by Inductively Coupled Plasma - Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES); or alternatively by using X-ray fluorescence (XRF)
  • Optical microscopy using a 'Leica' DMRX polarising light microscope. We also have a 'Leica'Z16 macroscope specifically for use within a glovebox environment
  • Electron microscopy can be performed on samples using a FEI Quanta 200FEG environmental scanning electron microscope (SEM), equipped with an Oxford Instruments energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX) unit. Both transmission and scanning modes are available

NNL also has access to other instrumentation and techniques for wet-chemical analysis across the NNL facilities and through University links


Email: Materials Testing and Characterisation