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Surface Analysis

Surface analysis is an important area of expertise for NSL, as the surface of a product must withstand heat, chemicals, erosion, and other attacks from its operating environment. To provide this protection, parts are carburized, nitrided, hardened, plated, thermal-sprayed, galvanized, sputtered, coated, and otherwise treated by processes too numerous to count.

The purpose of mechanical testing and characterization methods is to assure NSL customers that surfaces have been treated as suppliers claim, and that the surface quality meets their standards. Although the number of treatments is vast, the resulting surfaces may be characterized by relatively few technologies, including nondestructive, mechanical, metallographic, and chemical.

Selected Surface Analysis Techniques available from NSL Analytical

Test/Analysis method

Properties measured


Microstructure, flaws, cleanliness

Auger electron spectroscopy (AES)

Elemental composition of the top few atomic layers

Brinell, Rockwell, Microhardness


X-ray fluorescence (XRF)

Coating thickness

Service environment simulation (as closely as possible)


Chemical tests

Surface composition/contaminant identification

Bond strength

Adherence of coating to substrate