The Wonderful World of Nano

Warning: this post is a bit nerdy. If microscopes make you giddy, then this one’s for you…

NanoSpective is a materials characterization company located in Central Florida. What in the world is materials characterization you ask? Well, lets say you walk into Williams Sonoma and you see a titanium chef knife price marked $700. Expensive but oh so shiny, I wonder how much titanium is really in there. This is where the nanonians come in. Using sophisticated scientific equipment and years of expert knowledge these guys can deliver photos, charts and reports on exactly how much of anything is in that onion chopper.

Most of the time they end up analyzing why a company’s product has failed, if another manufacturer is using their patents or generally what a product is made of. And they can do this on just about anything… integrated circuits, LEDs, car parts, guns and even the image sensor inside my camera.

Last week we documented a day in the life of NanoSpective:

When a sample is sent in, it’s taken apart and imaged using an optical microscope.

A sample sometimes requires polishing or breakdown through a series of acids.

Left: Brian, a founder of the company working with a vacuum used to keep samples from being contaminated. Right: Roger using an inverted microscope to check the progress on a sample.

Left: Steve uses a FIB (focused ion beam) to create samples as small as ~100 nanometers. For reference, a strand of hair is on average around 100,000 nanometers. Right: Loni and Steve work on collecting data using a scanning electron microscope.

The transmission electron microscope being used by 2 of the founders Dr. Prenitzer and Dr. Kempshall.

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