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Materials and geosciences

Complementary capabilities supporting materials, biomaterials and geological sciences research.

In addition to our main characterisation methods, we offer precision cutting and polishing, high-temperature thermal analysis and customised controlled environment options.

Cutting and Polishing Laboratory

The Cutting and Polishing (CaP) Laboratory at Sydney Analytical provides sample preparation services across a wide range of material types and analytical instrumentation, as well as access to a range of preparation equipment available to users. Our capabilities span from cutting and grinding to polishing of bulk samples, prepared mounts and sections, with the ability to adapt every step in the preparation process to individual needs and a focus on quality and quick turnaround times.

We provide thin-section preparation as a service, as well as variety of other preparations, such as polished mounts, epoxy impregnation and sample staining. We can prepare a range of materials from a variety of research fields, including geoscience, materials science and engineering, medicine, archaeology and cultural heritage.

The CaP laboratory houses a range of diamond wet saws for the cutting of samples. These include GEMASTA benchtop saws and a block/brick saw for larger samples, as well as a Stuers Accutom 50 precision saw. Samples can be cut as a service by staff or may be booked for use.

Our laboratory is equipped with a Tema ring mill for the pulverising of samples, with both tungsten carbide and steel bowls available. The mill can be used to grind a variety of samples and is recommended for crushing sample amounts in the range of 1g to 100g, depending on material type.  A final size of approximately 100 µm is typical, with the potential present to reach 75 µm.

For preparation of pure metals and alloys we recommend contacting the Materials specimen preparation lab at Sydney Microscopy and Microanalysis.

In addition to our standard polishing down to the 1 μm suspension stage, we also provide submicron polishing ideal for EBSD. We achieve this using a colloidal silica suspension (0.09 μm) enabling a chemo-mechanical polish, in which process a thin reactive layer is formed on the surface of the sample and then removed through mechanical action. This provides a high quality finish for samples undergoing EBSD.

Thermal analysis of materials

Thermal analysis is an important class of analysis methods for materials research. Sydney Analytical operates two high-end instruments located in the Engineering precinct.

The Netzsch STA449 F3 Jupiter measures mass change and heat flow over a range of 25 – 1500°C. It can operate with a blend of up to three gases or under vacuum. The STA is coupled to a Bruker Invenio-X infrared spectrometer, allowing immediate and integrated analysis of evolved gases over the spectral range 8000 – 350 cm-1.

The Invenio-X is also available as a stand-alone IR spectrometer with a diamond attenuated total reflectance (ATR) accessory, allowing rapid, high-quality spectra of solids to be measured over the range 8000 - 350 cm-1.

The Netzsch Photo-DSC204 F1 Phoenix measures heat flow rate during heating and cooling over the range -180 – 600°C, and cryogen-free down to -85°C. Automatic sample changing and gas blending with up to three gases is supported.

Controlled sample environments

Sydney Analytical offers a wide range of control sample environments for in situ experiments, and our staff are always on the lookout for opportunities to develop our capability further. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

Our variable temperature options span the range 12 K (-161°C) to 1000°C. X-ray diffraction (powder and single crystal) and Raman spectra are both able to be measured over a wide temperature range. More modest temperature control is available for some other techniques.

A wide-aperture diamond anvil cell allows single-crystal diffraction data to be collected at pressures up to 20 GPa.

Many measurements can be made under a range of gases at elevated or reduced pressure, controlled humidity, or under vacuum.

We have developed in-house equipment for measuring samples under specific light-irradiation and in-situ battery cells