User Case

University of Malaysia: Optical 3D measurement enables in-depth material science

Dr. Azman Jalar, Deputy Director of Institute of Microengineering

Azman Jalar,
Deputy Director of Institute of Microengineering and Nanoelectronics, National University of Malaysia

“With Alicona, I have a powerful measurement tool for research investigations in materials science. It allows me to extrapolate which surface feature of my material causes which behavior. The measurement device is applicable to all materials in my research area including metals, semiconductors, ceramics, polymer, composites, and metal alloys. It is also highly intuitive to use and does not require high training effort.”

Materials science deals with the correlation between a material’s surface and its mechanical properties. Properties such as fatigue, wear, and corrosive resistance are highly dependent on the microstructure of components. The national university of Malaysia uses Alicona’s InfiniteFocus measurement system to measure the size, shape and texture of various materials. These measurements help determine which surface features effect which material characteristics.

Research on correlation between surface structure and material performance

At the Institute of Microengineering and Nanoelectronics (IMEN) at the National University of Malaysia, scientists are particularly interested in correlating surface structure to performance. Their research focuses on using size, shape, and texture of surface features on a variety of solid materials such as metals, semiconductors, ceramics, polymer, composites, and metal alloys to extrapolate properties such as stress, fatigue, wear resistance, and corrosivity in order to design new more resilient materials.

“Before Alicona, I was not able to measure polished surfaces”

Previously, the research was limited to use of confocal microscopes or profilometers, but Alicona’s InfiniteFocus measurement device enables more complete material surface characterization. IMEN Deputy Director and Senior Research Fellow Azman Jalar is excited by the increased surface analysis capabilities in the materials research laboratory: “Before I worked with Alicona, I struggled with my analysis tools. Neither my confocal microscope nor the 2D profilometer could adequately measure polished metal surfaces or silicon wafers. With our InfiniteFocus system, I have a reliable surface quantification tool that perfectly suits my research area. In our lab, it has become standard practice to quantify surface characteristics with Alicona’s Focus-Variation.”

Roughness measurement delivers Ra/Rq/Rz as well as Sa/Sq/Sz values

While the research at IMEN is broad, one of the key capabilities of the InfiniteFocus system is roughness measurements. The Alicona system provides profile based roughness measurement (Ra, Rq, Rz) and surface texture (Sa, Sq, Sz) measurements. This is accomplished by areal measurement, bearing area curve, and fractal dimension analysis. These measurements allow a more complete understanding of the functionality of the surface and quantitative corrosion or defect analysis.

3D measurement for meaningful corrosion analysis

While other technologies only perform a 2D classification of corroded regions, InfiniteFocus relies on 3D information for corrosion detection and analysis. Corrosion measurements are quick and easy as the system is especially designed for corrosion analysis over large scan areas up to 200 x 200 mm. The system’s high resolution and traceable and highly repeatable measurement give IMEN the confidence to correlate surface structure with a material´s properties. In addition, the Alicona data is a true color visualization of the measured surface to allow easy identification and confirmation of corrosion or defects on a material’s surface.

Applicable for a wide range of sizes, shape and material

The design of the InfiniteFocus system allows it to be applicable for a wide range of sample sizes, materials, and surface condition. “We investigate a variety of sample shapes and sizes including components with cylindrical or arbitrary form. For example, to measure our curved metal plates, I can easily acquire a high-resolution 3D dataset and then remove the form to accurately analyze surface structure detail independently,” says Azman Jalar about the flexible use of his InfiniteFocus system. Advanced corrosion investigations can be performed on materials of various surface finishes and compositions such as stainless steel, nickel-based alloys, titanium, or aluminum alloys.

In materials science, Alicona systems can be used in many ways including the following:

  • Establish a correlation between surface parameters and functional behavior of solid materials
  • 3D surface measurement of metals, semiconductors, ceramics, polymer, composites, and metal alloys
  • Scientific research in corrosion, tribology, fracturing, etc.
  • 3D measurement of profile roughness, surface texture measurement, and volume measurement including fractal dimension and bearing area curve
Optical 3D measurement of a curved metal plate

Optical 3D measurement of a curved metal plate. Form removal enables accurate roughness measurement on components.

Optical 3D measurement of a corroded aluminium plate

Optical 3D measurement of a corroded aluminium plate, also showing channels. Users can perform automatic defect detection.

Alicona automated corrosion detection with InfiniteFocus

Alicona: Automated corrosion detection with InfiniteFocus. Parameters of all defects are tabulated.

With Alicona, the National University of Malaysia optically measure i.e. metals, ceramics and composites to design new & robust materials. 

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