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The National Measurement Institute’s (NMI’s) nanometrology measurement services are accurate, reliable and accepted internationally. Our nanometrology laboratory conducts specific nanoscale tests and instruments using the following nanometrology equipment.

Microscopes

The NMI uses three types of microscope:

Atomic force microscope

  • Measured properties: nanometre and micron scale physical dimensions
  • Measurement principle: image of sample topography created by mapp
  • Instrument: Asylum Research MFP-3D
  • Accessories available: liquid cell

Optical microscope

  • Instrument: Leica DM6000, fitted with a Leica DFC490 digital camera.
  • Features: fully automated stage with ability for multistep (large area scans in x and y) and montage (composite z imaging) capability, ability to capture movies, differential interference contrast imaging, polariser/analyser, reflected light bright and dark field imaging, transmitted light bright field imaging

Optical stereo microscope

  • Instrument: Leica M125
  • Features: Hitachi KP-D20BU CCD colour camera, 800 mm swing arm

Particle size analysis equipment

The NMI uses 10 types of particle size analysis equipment.

Laser diffraction

  • Measured properties: particle size distribution in liquid suspensions
  • Particle size range: 30 nm – 100 μm
  • Measurement principle: angle dependent light scattering
  • Instrument: Malvern Mastersizer 3000
  • Accessories available: dispersion unit Hydro EV: capacity 400 to 1000 mL; dispersion unit Hydro SM small volume: capacity 50 to 120 mL; dry dispersion unit AeroS

Microchannel resonator

  • Measured properties: single particle buoyant mass and derived quantities such as particle volume and diameter)
  • in liquid suspensions, particle number concentration, particle density
  • Particle size range: ~60 nm to 5 μm depending on density
  • Measurement principle: particle mass changes mechanical resonance frequency of a microchannel oscillator
  • Instrument: Affinity Biosensors Archimedes Particle Metrology System

Disk centrifuge

  • Measured properties: particle size distribution in liquid suspensions
  • Particle size range: 10 nm to 10 µm
  • Measurement principle: centrifugal sedimentation with optical detection
  • Instrument: CPS DC24000UHR
  • Accessories available: automated gradient builder

Dynamic light scattering

  • Measured properties: particle size distribution in liquid suspensions
  • Particle size range: 1 nm to 5 µm
  • Measurement principle: light scattering from particles undergoing Brownian motion
  • Instrument: Malvern Zetasizer Nano ZS 
  • Accessories available: research version software; titration unit

Nanoparticle tracking analysis

  • Measured properties: particle size distribution in liquid suspensions, particle number concentration
  • Particle size range: 20 nm to 1 µm
  • Measurement principle: light scattering from individual particles undergoing Brownian motion
  • Instrument: Nanosight LM10 (red laser (l = 633 nm), LM14 (temperature controlled; green laser (l = 432 nm) and blue laser (l = 405 nm))
  • Accessories available: red, blue and red laser sources, standard and high resolution cameras

Tunable resistive pulse sensing

  • Measured properties: particle size distribution in liquid suspensions; particle number concentration
  • Particle size range: 80 nm to 1 μm
  • Measurement principle: single particle detection by electrical sensing zone method (Coulter counter) based on a stretchable nanopore
  • Instrument: IZON qNano

Asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation

  • Measured properties: particle size distribution in liquid suspensions
  • Particle size range: 1 nm to 5 µm
  • Measurement principle: static and dynamic light scattering from particles in suspension following size classification
  • Instrument: Wyatt Technologies AFFFF Eclipse 3+ and Dawn Helios 2 with MALS and QELS Detectors
  • Accessories available: Agilent 1200 Series Quaternary Pump with degasser, Autosampler, Diode Array Detector, Fraction Collector, LC ChemStation software; COMET ultrasonic cleaning system

Sedimentation field-flow fractionation

  • Measured properties: particle size distribution in liquid suspensions
  • Particle size range: 10 nm to 50 µm
  • Measurement principle: size separation based on centrifugal force and flow channel properties which can be modelled or calibrated to determine particle size; external measurement of particle size also possible by in-line or off-line measurement with other detectors
  • Instrument: Postnova CF2000 Centrifugal Field Flow Fractionation system
  • Accessories available: Agilent Diode Array Detector, Autosampler, Fraction Collector, connectivity to inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry for simultaneous chemical analysis, connectivity to external light scattering instrumentation for dynamic light scattering analysis

Dynamic image analysis

  • Measured properties: particle size distribution, particle shape distribution; particle number concentration
  • Particle size range: >100 nm to 3 mm, depending on density
  • Measurement principle: optical imaging and/or laser obscuration of flowing particles (dry or in liquid)
  • Instrument: AmbiValue Eyetech Combi
  • Accessories available: mechanical stirrer cell, micro flow cell, dry powder free fall cell

Sedimentation analysis

  • Measured properties: particle size distribution in liquid suspensions
  • Particle size range: ~100 nm to 300 μm, depending on density
  • Measurement principle: gravity-induced settling velocity with X-ray detection
  • Instrument: Micromeritics Sedigraph 5120

Surface area analysis equipment

The NMI uses three types of surface area analysis equipment:

Particle surface area measurement (in suspension) 

  • Measured properties: particle surface area in concentrated liquid suspensions
  • Particle size range: 10 nm to 5 µm
  • Measurement principle: nuclear magnetic resonance
  • Instrument: Xigo Tools Acorn Area

Gas adsorption system for surface area and micropore analysis

  • Measured properties: particle surface area and pore size of dry powders
  • Particle size range: 1 nm to 5 µm
  • Measurement principle: isothermal gas adsorption
  • Instrument: Quantachrome Autosorb iQ2

Gas pycnometer

  • Measured properties: density of solids, slurries and dry powders
  • Measurement principle: a gas displacement method for accurate volume measurements to facilitate apparent specific gravity determination
  • Instrument: Micromeritics Accupyc 1340
  • Accessories available: multi-volume kit (1, 100 and 350 cm3)

Zeta potential measurement

The NMI uses three types of zeta potential measurement equipment:

Charge titration unit

  • Measured properties: particle surface charge
  • Particle suspension concentration: 0.1 to 10%
  • Measurement principle: streaming current potential
  • Instrument: Particle Metrix Stabisizer

Electrophoretic zeta potential measuring system (laser doppler velocimetry)

  • Measured properties: zeta potential
  • Particle size range: 1 nm to 5 µm
  • Measurement principle: electrophoretic mobility
  • Instrument: Malvern Zetasizer Nano ZS 
  • Accessories available: multi-purpose auto-titration unit, high concentration zetacell, research version software

Electrophoretic zeta potential measuring system (particle tracking)

  • Measured properties: Zeta potential
  • Particle size range: 60 nm to 1 µm
  • Measurement principle: electrophoretic mobility
  • Instrument: Particle Metrix ZetaView

Chemical characterisation

The NMI uses two types of chemical characterisation systems:

Thermo-gravimetric analysis system

  • Measured properties: mass and heat flux as a function of temperature or time
  • Instrument: Perkin-Elmer STA 6000 TGA/DSC
  • Accessories available: TL-8000 heated transfer line for connection to the Frontier MIR FT-IR system

Fourier transform-infra red (FT-IR) spectroscopy analysis system

  • Measured properties: chemical fingerprinting
  • Measurement principle: IR-active vibrations of the covalent bonds of molecules
  • Instrument: Perkin-Elmer Frontier MIR FT-IR and Spectrum 10 system
  • Accessories available: Frontier Universal Diamond/ZnSe ATR with single reflection top-plate and pressure arm; TL-8000 heated transfer line for connection to the TGA system

Sieves

The NMI uses two types of sieves:

Precision electroform sieves with electromagnetic actuation and ultrasonic processor 

  • Measured properties: particle classification by size
  • Particle size range: 5 to 400 µm
  • Measurement principle: wet or dry sieving
  • Instrument: Topas GmbH Electromagnetic Sieve Vibrator EMS 755
  • Accessories available: Topas Ultrasonic Disintegrator UDS 751, sieves with mesh sizes ranging from 5 µm, 10 µm, 15 µm, 20 µm, 25 µm, 30 µm, 35 µm, 40 µm, 45 µm, 50 µm, 100 µm, 200 µm to 400 µm

Sonic sifter separator stack

  • Measured properties: particle classification by size Particle size range: 3 to 150 µm Measurement principle: Wet or dry sieving Instrument: Advantech
  • Accessories available: Sieves with mesh sizes ranging from 3 µm, 5 µm, 10 µm, 15 µm, 20 µm, 25 µm, 30 µm, 35 µm, 40 µm, 45 µm, 50 µm, 55 µm, 60 µm, 70 µm, 80 µm, 90 µm, 100 µm, 125 µm to 150 μm

Other measurement equipment

The NMI also uses Vibro viscometers and a digital multi-wavelength refractometer:

Vibro viscometers

  • Measured properties: viscosity
  • Measurement principle: Tuning fork vibration, resonance frequency
  • Instrument: A&D Vibro Viscometer
  • Model number(s):  SV-10 (minimum measurement volume 10 mL) and SV-A (minimum measurement volume 2 mL)

Digital multi-wavelength refractometer

Schmidt and Haensch 

Materials processing equipment

  • laboratory centrifuge with swinging buckets (SIGMA)
  • bench top centrifuge (Eppendorf minispin)
  • rotary sample divider (Fritsch)
  • rotary micro riffler (Quantachrome)
  • high-intensity ultrasonic processing system with a range of available probes and horns (Misonix S-4000 U)
  • ultrasonic bath (Cole-Palmer)
  • cytotoxic cabinet
  • laminar flow bench
  • fume hood

Reference materials

We use a selection of reference materials to qualify and calibrate our measurement instrumentation and methods:

  • particle diameter standards (polystyrene latex particle suspensions, gold nanoparticle suspensions and silicon dioxide particle suspensions)
  • zeta potential standard
  • surface area standards
  • step height standards
  • pitch length standards

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Last updated: 13 September 2019

Content ID: 64600