Contamination Analysis

Contamination Analysis

Contamination analysis generally includes whether there is an unknown material in the product, the chemical and physical structure of this foreign substance, how and how the substance contaminates your product, the damages this substance will cause to the product in the short, medium and long term, etc. It is done to get detailed answers to questions such as.

Contamination Analysis

In the contamination analysis, the protocol consists of four parts:

  • Visual examination
  • Organic Analytical Tests with Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy
  • Analytical Tests with Scanning Electron Microscopy / Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (SEM / EDS)
  • Ionic Analytical Test with Ion Chromatography (IC)

Pollution Analysis Methodologies

Visual examination

The first steps of any test research should always be a comprehensive examination with the naked eye and a stereomicroscope (or similar).

A large amount of information can be collected by looking at the unknown contaminant. Here are some common questions to keep in mind when conducting your review:

  • In what form is the substance? Solid, liquid, gel etc. you? What is its texture?
  • What color is the item?
  • Is the substance in a specific area of ​​the test sample or is it randomly distributed?
  • Is this an isolated event for this specimen type or is it "broad spread"?

Although they seem insignificant at the beginning of the analysis, the answers to these questions can help find a final answer after the analytical test is complete.

A real world example: An analysis of an unknown solid, "bluish" material finds that the substance is copper-based and inorganic. Analysis of the substance by SEM / EDS detects copper and oxygen, but since hydrogen cannot be detected by EDS, it cannot distinguish between copper (II) oxide - CuO - and copper (II) hydroxide - Cu (OH) 2.

When immersed in some reference materials and the oxide is black / brown, it is seen that the hydroxide is blue / blue-green. From here, the simple visual feature of color is "What is this?" answers the question.

Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy

F Organic analytical testing by is a standard analytical technique used to qualitatively identify the presence of organic-based materials. With an FTIR analysis, many new questions can be answered to identify contaminant material.

  • Is the substance organic or inorganic?
  • If organic, what characteristic chemical binding peaks are there?
  • When comparing this spectrum with one's spectral libraries, are any spectral matches found?
  • Are the matching spectra meaningful for the problem at hand?

The first of the two analytical techniques can provide a significant amount of information about the substance, especially if it is organic-based, and sometimes "What is this?" can answer the question directly.

Scanning Electron Microscopy / Energy Distributor X-Ray Spectroscopy (SEM / EDS)

SEM / ESD s Elemental Analytical Test is actually a combination of two techniques. The SEM portion is a visual method that allows a sample to be viewed slightly differently with the naked eye or an optical microscope. The image created by SEM is grayscale and is based on the electrons found in the studied area - heavier elements appear brighter and lighter items appear darker.

Sometimes the contaminant material that cannot be seen with the naked eye is detected by SEM. For example, optically transparent materials can be seen in SEM. Also, fine residues or residues that can only be seen at high magnification are more visible in SEM than optical microscopy.

EDS analysis, which changes sides on SEM / EDS, is a standard analytical technique that identifies elemental species in a particular area of ​​interest. 

From this spectrum, quantitative results can be obtained for any element type (above the carbon in the periodic table) available in its area of ​​interest. In addition, this additional information can help answer more questions to identify contaminant material:

  • Is the substance organic or inorganic?
  • Is the material metallic?
  • Are some elements represented at higher concentrations?
  • Do the detected elements suggest a specific chemical compound or compounds?

As with FTIR, this analytical technique can provide substantial information about matter, and from time to time, ask "What is this?" He can also answer his question.

A real world example: A spectrum was obtained from an unknown substance contained in a condensate pan, and the presence of aluminum, sulfur and oxygen was predominantly detected in the scan. Aluminum, which serves as a cation in a salt-like compound, and sulfur and oxygen will probably be present as the sulfate anion, which indicates that the unknown substance is aluminum sulfate. While further research has been done, the condensate pan has been found to be made of aluminum, indicating that something in the condensate liquid probably corrodes the pan to form the corrosion product.

Ionic Analytical Test with Ion Chromatography (IC)

IC is an analytical method used to identify and measure ionic compounds. An ionic compound is a chemical compound consisting of a cation, a positively charged ion and an anion, a negatively charged ion, and bound by electrostatic forces. Salts such as NaCl are ionic compounds. When dissolved or in the presence of moisture or moisture, ionic compounds can become electrically conductive. Therefore, ionic contamination in electronics is particularly problematic, since increased ionic content can lead to low resistance and short circuits. Thus, by quantitatively determining ionic contamination, the IC can collect more information and identify a contaminant. The IC test can answer the following questions:

  • Is the substance ionic?
  • What are the ionic species available? How much are each available?
  • Is it likely that the amount detected will cause the problem?
  • Do the ionic species detected indicate a possible source?

In most cases, the results from each of the contamination analysis segments - Visual Inspection, FTIR, SEM / ESD and IC - are used with the other to produce a singular result. It is not uncommon for one technique to provide more information than others; however, using them all together is a better way to get the whole picture.

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