Offering

Materials Characterization

Materials Characterization

The vital point to developing future products, monitoring and improving performance, and preventing failures is to appreciate a material’s composition, microstructure, and properties and how they interact with the environment. 

From measuring and identifying unknown materials to controlling the level of trace contaminants at the part-per-billion level, we have the experience to select the appropriate analysis of characterization techniques to obtain a quick and accurate answer.  We have a comprehensive suite of analytical and characterization capabilities to apply to a wide variety of needs such as contamination identification, material identification, depth distribution, major chemical composition, and microstructure.

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Additive
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Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is an emerging field that is transforming traditional manufacturing as we know it. Within the past decade, additive manufacturing was principally used to prototype the design of new parts. In more recent years, manufacturers are producing the actual working components using a variety of 3D printing processes such as direct metal laser melting electron beam melting of powder beds and other techniques such as binder jet.

The design freedom and unique capabilities additive manufacturing can deliver is seemingly limitless. More and more, companies are exploiting additive to create lighter, stronger parts and systems that enable better performance by growing a 3D object one layer at a time.

For as many new possibilities that 3D printing offers, the technology still has many unknowns that require deep experience in materials characterization to understand. The Material Characterization team at GE Research has deep domain experience in all aspects of these material challenges for this advanced manufacturing process.

Aerospace
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The Materials Characterization team at GE Research has more than 60 years of experience analyzing materials and chemistries across the aerospace industry. We have acquired deep industry domain expertise supporting GE Aviation in the development and validation of new materials and coatings for commercial jet engines.

Being so integrated into the Aerospace industry, we know first hand the high bar for safety and performance. Since GE built the first US jet engine in the 1940s, advances in new metal alloys and most recently, GE’s introduction of high-temperature, lightweight ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), have enabled the Industry to set higher standards for the reliability and performance of jet engine technology. Every step of the way, the GE Global Research’s Materials Characterization team was engaged to understand and validate the properties of these new materials.

Beyond driving the development of new materials, the Characterization team has applied innovative analytical techniques and methods to develop new coatings for thermal and environmental protection, and to improve service processes. All have been essential to delivering continuous improvements in engine efficiency and life.

chemical
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Production of chemicals from small molecules to large macromolecules requires a significant amount of characterization. Characterization of product, biproducts and waste is vital during the development phase, separation phase, determining contamination levels and setting material specifications. The characterization experience we have is derived from our previous involvement with developing matericals for the healthcare, chemical, polymer, and silicone industries. The characterization measurements we execute range from determining molecular structure, isomers, and trace contamination to physical attributes, like flowability, adhesion, etc.

Healthcare
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The Healthcare industry continues to develop new technology to push for quicker assessments, accurate diagnosis, and better patient outcomes. The Material Characterization team at GE Research has experience working with a wide range of materials including ceramics for improved detection efficiency for medical imaging equipment to tissue samples to determine contrast agent distribution. The team also works with resins, membranes and single use components for biopharmaceutical manufacturing. The team has experience developing characterization methods for new material development as well as applying problem solving skills to difficult challenges.

microelectronics
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Integrated circuits and microelectronics are prevalently used in today’s society. Advanced techniques for the analysis and characterization of materials have significantly aided the production, delivery, and ultimate reliability of circuits and microelectronics. We have experience with non-destructive analysis (X-ray Fluorescence) and imaging (Scanning Electron Microscopy and micro-computed tomography) and destructive chemical analysis via surface and wet chemical methods. The analytical results contribute to specific component and material selection as well as the development of processing techniques to minimize contamination.

Capabilities & Techniques

Imaging & Microanalysis

We exercise a wide range of techniques to reveal a material’s microstructure and composition from the macro to nanoscale in 2D or 3D. 

  • Scanning Electron Microscopy
  • Focused Ion Beam Microscopy
  • Quantitative Image Analysis
  • High Resolution Computed Tomography
  • Scanning Probe Microscopy
  • Metallographic Sample Preparation
  • Electron Probe Micro Analysis
  • Transmission Electron Microscopy
  • Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy
Surface Analysis

The team analyzes the top most atomic layers of a surface with electrons, photons, ions and scanning probes.

  • Auger Electron Spectroscopy
  • X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy
  • Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry
  • Scanning Probe Microscopy
  • Chromatic White Light Profilometry
Structural Analysis

In order to understand a material’s crystal structure, phase transformation, and stress/strain we employ  X-ray, neutron, and electron beams.

  • Electron Backscatter Diffraction
  • X-ray Diffraction
  • Synchrotron Neutron Techniques
  • Back-reflection Laue
Organic Analysis

The team identifies complex unknown organic chemicals, elucidates molecular structure and chemical interactions.

  • HP Liquid Chromatography - Electro spray Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
  • IR Spectroscopy
  • Raman Spectroscopy
  • GC x GC Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry
Elemental Analysis

The team quantifies the elemental & ionic composition in diverse matrices, from bulk to part per billion trace impurity with high accuracy.

  • Inductively Coupled Plasma
  • Ion Chromatography
  • X-ray Fluorescence
  • Instrumental Gas Analysis
Thermal/Mechanical Analysis

The team studies phase transformation and mechanical property changes both in situ and ex-situ.

  • TGA-MS Gas Evolution Analysis
  • Thermal Gravimetric Analysis
  • Micro-indentation Hardness Testing
  • Nano Indenting

Our History

1927

X-Ray Source

We like to credit the start of the material characterization discipline at GE Global Research to one of our earliest research pioneers, William Coolidge (pictured right). Coolidge developed the first enclosed x-ray source in 1927, which was the spark of many innovations in x-ray source and detector development that are used in the field of material characterization today. It also led a team of researchers at GRC to push an electron beam accelerator to produce the first observed synchrotron radiation in 1946. Throughout the 1940s to 1960’s GE had many commercial firsts from transmission electron microscopes to x-ray microscopes and numerous innovations in method development. In 1967, Larry Harris was credited with developing a modern-day instrument to measure Auger electrons and creating a differential spectrum. Today the team uses all of these capabilities to study challenging material development problems for ceramic matrix composites (from raw material to finished components), high temperature metals and ceramics (for aerospace and healthcare applications), and additive manufacturing (from powder to finished build) just to name a few.

Today

Electron Microscope

By leveraging our rich history of innovation, our team has developed a unique blend of analytical science and materials characterization expertise that is unlike any you will find in the materials and analytical space. We provide the material microstructural, chemical properties, and compositional certainty to correlate with material process and performance characteristics. The composition of materials can be measured from the % range all the way down to the parts-per-billion trace range. The scale of structures observed range from Angstroms, or imaging of individual atoms and chemical bonds, up to centimeters, looking at coarse grain structures in metals and other materials. Our team applies its expertise to a wide variety of material sets: metals, ceramics, composites, polymers, chemicals, and biologicals.

Characterization Applications

Developing materials with specific properties that can meet customer-defined criteria is an iterative process that requires accurate and precise data. That data is used to direct the team to stay on track or pivot quickly. Our decades of experience guide material development teams on the appropriate analytical or characterization techniques to implement from the initial material development feasibility studies, pilot scale trials through production. We have a comprehensive characterization facility and staff with experience to work with material development teams for small molecule, polymer, membranes, ceramics metals, semiconductors, and composites. Along with developing processes we also determine the performance of the material under various environmental conditions which provides information on how some failures can be avoided.

Understanding the cause of a product or manufacturing failure can be time-consuming and expensive. We have an interdisciplinary team with decades of experience in manufacturing and root cause analysis. Our team has at its disposal a full suite of chemical, physical and surface analytical techniques to allow them to rapidly focus in on key areas of interests. Whether your problem be an unknown contaminant, stress-cracking, metal corrosion or fatigue, adhesion issues, biological contamination or process drift, we have the experience to help you get back on track. The Material Characterization team at GE Research can help you to: determine the identity and source of an unknown contaminant, track down the cause of run-to-run variability, understand a new failure mechanism, and formulate new QC processes to prevent future reoccurrences.

The vital point to developing future products, monitoring and improving performance, and preventing failures is to appreciate a material’s composition, microstructure, and properties and how they interact with the environment. From measuring and identifying unknown materials to controlling the level of trace contaminants at the part-per-billion level, we have the experience to select the appropriate analysis of characterization techniques to obtain a quick and accurate answer. We have a comprehensive suite of analytical and characterization capabilities to apply to a wide variety of needs such as contamination identification, material identification, depth distribution, major chemical composition, and microstructure.

Throughout the material discovery, development and manufacturing process, it is imperative to develop accurate, reliable and timely analysis. The process of method origination has a direct impact on the quality of analytical data. We have extensive experience developing robust methods to address the specific detection of elements or phases in complex matrices, minimizing impurity interferences, achieving detection limits and minimizing noise and variability. We know how important it is to select an appropriate method the first time by qualifying instrumentation, process optimization and validation in order to save time, money and resources.

We work with supply chain and manufacturing teams to develop off-line, at-line, and online QA/Ac methods to ensure the quality of material during production. Over the course of the material development phase, we focus on selecting methods and techniques that will be simple to execute on or near a manufacturing floor and can easily discriminate deviations from optimal conditions. When selecting new supplies of raw material, the Material Characterization team has experience with measuring the composition and microstructure equivalent to determine whether raw materials meet specification.

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