Techniques

Some of our in house instruments (top of page, from left to right): Atomic force microscopy (AFM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM)

Our state-of-the-art instrumentation, some of it custom designed, is available for research projects and contact research.

Atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS): high resolution concentration of elements in aqueous solutions.

Atomic force microscopy (AFM): surface topography and maps of adhesion force, charge and surface composition at micrometre and nanometre scale.

Atomic force spectroscopy (AFS): force vs distance data taken from selected areas on the surface of a solid; maps of specific properties can be extracted from the huge data sets.

Atomic force microscopy coupled with a pulsed infrared laser (AFM-IR): spectroscopy and chemical mapping at micrometre and nanometre scale.

Chemical force microscopy (CFM): atomic force mapping made with functionalised AFM tips, to show surface forces.

Density functional theory (DFT): use of the basic properties of the atoms to predict likely behaviour of solids, fluids and gases.

Energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy: used with SEM to make maps of elemental composition.

Focussed ion beam (FIB): controlled erosion of solid material to produce 3D images or to make thin sections for use in TEM.

Freeze drying: sample freezing to remove water.

Gas adsorption (BET): surface area and porosity; change in enthalpy of adsorption (ΔHads).

Geochemical speciation modelling: Use of thermodynamic and kinetic data to predict equillibrium conditions and rates of reaction; often using PHREEQ for natural systems.

Glove box: controlled atmosphere experiments where the gas can be inert, such as N2 or reactive, such as CO2, or any other.

High pressure/temperature reactor systems: closed and flow through systems for controlled experiments.

Ion Chromatography (IC): concentration of ions in solution, typically anions.

Low energy electron diffraction (LEED): diffraction patterns from the top few molecular layers of crystalline materials.

Molecular modelling: simulations of ions and molecules interacting at mineral surfaces and in solution; mainly DFT and MD.

Optical petrographic microscopy: light microscopy for mineral identification, often using polarised light.

Pair distribution function (PDF): analysis of distance between atoms in solids; usually uses SR.

Potentiometry: measurement of solution composition species potential.

Precipitation and dissolution: Constant composition set up for determining thermodynamic and kinetic behaviour; to determine the effect of inhibitors; to elucidate mechanisms.

Radioactive isotopes and scintillation counter: radioisotopes used as tracers, to determine very small relative changes in the concentration.

Reactive transport modelling: where chemical reaction and fluid transport codes are coupled to predict the movement of contaminants or reactants for remediation.

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM): for making images of topography, morphology and with EDXS, element identification.

Small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS): particle size and microstructure analysis, usually done with SR.

Synchrotron radiation (SR): high intensity and brightness for several techniques, done at SR facilities, internationally.

Transmission electron microscopy (TEM): for making images through very thin slices of materials, for composition, morphology and material identity.

Tomography – 3D imaging: CT scanning; images of structure and composition at micrometre and nanometre scale, made using X-rays or electrons; images used to predict fluid flow, mechanical strength, dissolution or precipitation within a solid, in situ in real time.

UV/VIS spectrophotometry: composition and time dependent change, also in solution turbidity.

Wide angle X-ray scattering (WAXS): similar to XRD but with SR.

X-ray diffraction (XRD): identification of mineral phases, multiphase analysis, particle size.

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS): spectra and chemical maps of the top 10 nm of surfaces; element composition and bonding character.

X-ray reflectivity (XR): analysis of surface structure, usually uses SR.

Zeta potential: surface charge and isoelectric point.