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Analytical and systems research provides state-of-the-art analytical services to researchers in the various business units within Arkema Inc., our manufacturing facilities and our customers. 

Our expert skills, combined with sophisticated capabilities of instrumentation and data analysis tools, are crucial to the effectiveness of the technical activities throughout the company. Our scientists support all of Arkema Inc., working closely with our other research centers worldwide in the development of new products or processes. We are equipped with a comprehensive range of modern instrumental and classical analytical testing.

Instrumentation techniques include:

  • Chromatography and mass spectrometry
  • Microprocessing
  • Microscopy
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance
  • Rheology and mechanical analysis
  • Size exclusion chromatography
  • Thermal analysis
  • Vibrational spectroscopy
  • X-ray and elemental analysis

In addition, we utilize a wide range of modeling and process system analysis techniques.


Key contributions

Polymer characterization

Understanding the relationship between polymer structures and physical properties plays a critical role in our research.

The details of the chemical composition of a polymer are revealed by infrared, Raman, or nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopies. Thermal, rheological, mechanical, and molecular weight analyses provide physical property information.

By combining physical-chemical property and structural information we can understand the performance of different polymers in processing and during end-use. This information enables the rapid development of new polymers and new applications of current polymers.

Nanoscale materials imaging and characterization play a key role in the development of highly structured polymers and polymer composites. The morphology and topography of surfaces can be measured with resolutions ranging from microns to nanometers with our microscopy capabilities. The scanning electron microscope can also provide two-dimensional maps of the elemental composition. Using x-ray techniques, we can characterize the small-scale crystalline structure and orientation as well as the larger-scale order of new polymer systems and identify the bulk elemental composition of both organic and inorganic materials.

The microprocessing laboratory provides efficient screening tools for the rapid evaluation of new polymers, polymer blends, or multicomponent systems using as little as 3mL of material. Finished product characterization to understand the material behavior is also critical. A combination of optical and infrared microscopies serves to study the polymers making up multi-component items such as photovoltaic modules, fuel cell components, electrical cable sheathing, tube and pipe for fuel and corrosives transportation, and multi-layer sheet used in a large variety of applications. These capabilities are vital for Arkema to provide top-quality products and to ensure our competitive advantage.

Surface analysis

Our scientists use the extremely surface-sensitive x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy technique to determine the elemental composition and oxidation states in the uppermost few nanometers of material surfaces. Ion beam etching capabilities allow the compositional profile to be evaluated as a function of penetration depth. Changes in chemical composition on the surface and as a function of depth, caused by environmental exposure or processing conditions can also be determined using infrared or Raman spectroscopy. Using atomic force microscopy, we can measure local variations in surface texture and roughness, stiffness and hardness, adhesion, energy dissipation, and friction in materials.

Trace component determination

Establishing the presence of elements and compounds at levels as low as 1 part per billion finds use in many applications. It is often required to address health, safety and environmental concerns. Inductively coupled plasma or X-ray fluorescence can simultaneously determine as many as 72 elements from trace to % levels. Gas, liquid, and ion chromatographies, often coupled with mass spectrometry, provide molecular structure and quantitative determination for individual components in complex mixtures.

Systems analysis

To enable the discovery and optimization of new products and manufacturing processes we use our systems analysis capabilities. Some of the tools we use include analysis and modeling of large complex datasets, mathematical optimization, and online process control engineering. We also apply quantum chemical, molecular mechanics, and macroscopic process modeling to determine structure-property relationships.