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Why the plastics industry relies heavily on microscopy analysis

Ever since oil became fundamental to industry, scientists and engineers from all around the world have carried out more and more research into how different organic molecules can be combined in certain patterns to obtain new materials with amazing properties. Commonly called plastics, they are known to the scientific community as polymers — chemical compounds with a highly-engineered chemical structure and composition.

The analysis of these compounds is crucial in helping to improve polymer production processes. This article discusses how electron microscopy can provide the analysis that polymer developers need to improve product quality significantly.

The polymer archetypes
Over the years, polymers have silently and smoothly become part of our everyday life, replacing several different materials and outperforming them in terms of technical specifications and price. In some cases, they also represent a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly alternative to the materials that are currently used.

(Scanning) electron microscopy within the plastics industry: why?
It is in response to this need for improvement that the plastics industry relies heavily on electron microscope images and analysis. With scanning electron microscopes (SEM), scientists can image features as small as a few nanometers, and measure important parameters such as the size of particles, the diameters of fibers, and the thickness of foils.

These results help to improve the polymer composition and production process, thereby enhancing the performanceof any products that are developed.

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