Examples of this type of analysis include the identification of preservatives in treated timber, the detection of metal pre-treatments and the identification of surface contaminants giving rise to adhesion problems.
The chemistry and topography of surfaces have a profound influence on the service life of coatings applied to them and for this reason we employ a variety of techniques to investigate surface properties. Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) coupled with attenuated total reflectance (ATR) techniques can provide information on the chemistry of the topmost few microns of a surface. In situations where first few monolayers of a surface are of interest then X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) or secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) may be necessary.
There are situations where a visual representation of the surface is required and here the techniques range in sensitivity from optical microscopy through scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to atomic force microscopy (AFM). The latter technique is capable of mapping the topography of a surface virtually down to the atomic level.
None of the above techniques are applicable if you need to assess the state of blast cleaned steel prior to painting. We can supply you with test papers that will enable you to carry out a simple, rapid, on-site test for the soluble iron salts that, unless removed, will be the starting point for under-film corrosion.