About Film Layer Analysis

Film technology is extremely complex and is an area of interest in the industrial, packaging, medical, and food industries. Films are often composed of several layers where each layer provides a unique property, such as a gas barrier, adhesion, chemical resistance, and oxidation resistance.  The combination of the various layers form a functional product.

Important reasons for conducting Film Layer Analysis include: determining the thickness of film layers, competitor comparisons, determining the elemental composition of defects in films, and determining the elemental composition of each film layer.

  • Approaches

    Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) is typically used for film layer analysis.

    • The SEM can provide highly detailed images of each layer and measure the thickness with great accuracy. Film transparency is not an issue since the image is created from electron interactions and non-visible light.
    • Due to a wide range of SEM magnifications, film thickness can be analyzed from over 1 mm to below 1 micron.
    • The various film layers can be further analyzed with Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS or EDX) to acquire the elemental composition of each layer which could help identify possible additives in specific layers of the film.

    Optical Microscopy (OM) is another excellent analytical technique for film layer analysis.

    • While the SEM has a much higher level of detail than the OM, optical microscopy is particularly useful when performing film layer analysis on colored film.
    • The stereomicroscope operates in a lower magnification range than the SEM which makes analyzing thick film samples possible.
    • OM is often used as a precursor to SEM to pin point certain areas of interest.
  • Sample Considerations

    The film sample is typically fixated and cross-sectioned.

    The required thickness of the film sample is usually below 2 millimeters for SEM analysis.  However, thicker films can still be analyzed.

    If SEM is the method used for analysis there are limitations on the volatile content of samples because excessive off-gasing can be detrimental to instrument performance. 

    Please contact us to talk through your specific sample considerations and Film Layer Analysis needs. 

  • Experience

    Work we've done:

    • Layer thickness of films
    • Identification and composition of particles in films
    • Competitor product analysis and comparative analysis
    • Delamination and film adhesion analysis
    • Elemental composition of film layers

    Products we've tested:

    • Food Packaging
    • Window tinting
    • Metalized films
    • Film composites
    • Product labels
    • Plastic bags
    • Candy wrappers
    • Foil laminated films
    • Medical packaging
    • Geo-engineering films
    • Electronics packaging