Materials Characterization

​Omya's analytics and microstructural laboratories intensively support both research and development activities, as well as the production quality at both Omya and external customers. All laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment operated by a team of experienced scientists and technicians.

The Omya analytics and microstructural laboratories department is fully certified according to ISO 9001:2008 and is composed of the following units:

  • Analytical laboratory
  • Crystalline materials laboratory
  • Microscopy laboratory
  • Rheology laboratory

Analytical laboratory

The analytical laboratory provides the support, know-how and high-quality problem-solving service needed to run the business and to actively support research and product development. The laboratory can offer a wide range of techniques and methods covering most of the areas of analytical chemistry. Laboratory techniques include chemical, elemental and trace metal analysis for a wide range of materials in respect to identification and qualification.

The infrastructure of the analytical laboratory includes:

  • Infra-red spectroscopy with focal plane array microscope (FTIR-FPA)
  • X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF)
  • Inductively coupled plasma-spectrometry (ICP-MS)
  • Gas chromatography (GC-FID, GC-MS, HS/TD-GC-MS)
  • Liquid chromatography (UHPLC, UHPLC-MS/MS)

Crystallography laboratory

The crystallography laboratory performs microstructural studies using x-ray powder diffractometry and material hardness determination using microindentation. The laboratory analyzes samples of rocks, minerals, experimental products and many other crystalline materials – both organic and inorganic. The results of our high-quality analyses in combination with particle size distribution data allows us to determine the fine fraction of crystalline silica in bulk products using the Size-Weighted Respirable Fraction (SWeRF) method. The Omya crystallography laboratory is the only site in Switzerland recommended for SWeRF determination by the Industrial Minerals Association (IMA) Europe.

The infrastructure of the crystallography laboratory includes:

  • Bruker AXS D8 Advanced Series II - XRD

Equipped with:

  • Vantec-1 superspeed detector
  • Nine-position sample changer
  • TTK 450 low-temperature chamber (-193 °C to 450 °C)
  • Compact Eulerian cradle
  • INNOVATEST Micro-Vickers 423 A

Microscopy laboratory

Various samples can be analyzed by our state-of-the-art light-microscopy equipment. Electron microscopy can be applied for studying micro-materials and nano-materials. Our strength here is longstanding experience in sample preparation for the microscopic characterization of both man-made and natural materials.

The infrastructure of the microscopy laboratory includes:

  • Light-microscopy for examining transparent or opaque samples (magnification: 7x to 1 000x)
  • Confocal Iaser scanning microscopy (CLSM) for obtaining multiple high-resolution optical images with depth selectivity, allowing 3D re­constructions of surfaces (magnification: 50x to 1 000x)
  • Field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) equipped with SE, BSD and EDS detectors providing high-resolution imaging and full chemical analysis (magnification: 20x to 100 000x)
  • Image analysis software for extracting meaningful information from digital images

Rheology laboratory

The rheology laboratory is fully equipped for characterizing the flow properties of complex liquids, especially suspensions, but also gels, liquids and powders. The understanding and control of rheological properties is essential for numerous products and applications.

The infrastructure of the rheology laboratory includes:

  • Rheometer for rotational and oscillatory experiments
  • Capillary viscometry (single point measurements and dilution series, e.g. intrinsic viscosity)
  • Tensiometer for the determination of the surface tension
  • Powder rheometer