The internal structure of an apparently homogeneous material can have a considerable influence on its properties. Structural analysis as part of a “physics of failure” approach can identify failure mechanisms so that avoidance measures can be taken.
Equipment is available for a range of analyses, including:
- Grainstructure: Electron backscatter diffraction is used to analyse the structure of metallic materials. Findings about grain size and orientation, for example at soldered joints can provide evidence about possible weak spots
- Topography: Atomic force microscopy (AFM) can be used to study the topography of surfaces and to identify damage. It is also possible to intentionally causedamage in order to examine the effects on properties.
- Raman spectroscopy: Non-metallic materials, in particular semiconductors and polymers, contain bonds which emit light with a characteristic frequency shift in comparison with an impinging laser. From the extent of the shift, conclusions can be drawn about the residual stresses, e.g. due to thermal mismatch