CERSA has access to a suite of facilities that provide various types of chemical composition and structural information for a wide range of materials, whether solid or in solution. Information can be gathered on bulk materials or at a specific location on the surface of the material. The information may be elemental concentration, ratio of stable isotopes, crystalline phase, external form, or particle size distribution.

The types of investigation typically undertaken include:

  • Quality Assurance checks on bulk composition and impurities (water, rocks, minerals, soils, ceramics, metals, plastics)
  • Trouble-shooting malfunctioning materials (electronics, metals, construction)
  • Tracking the origin or Provenance of materials (forensic science)
  • Monitoring compositional changes in rocks, environmental materials and pollutants
  • Specialist services such as analysing inorganic elements in organic materials

Compliance testing (e.g. RoHs, WEEE) Instrumentation available to address such problems include:

  • Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) for concentrations of trace elements in solids and solutions
  • X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) for concentrations of major and trace elements in solids
  • X-ray diffractometry (XRD) for the identification and quantification of crystalline phases in mixtures
  • Isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) for the ratios of the stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen
  • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) providing images of surface topography of materials at high magnification
  • Electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) providing the concentration of elements at a spot about one micron across on the surface of a material
  • Laser diffraction particle size analysis providing the size distribution in a powder


 Contact: Dr Ed Stephens