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Optical Properties

Observed as variation in optical reflectivity or transparency, "fogging" of plastic films, "misting" of glass, "hazing" on rubbers and polymeric materials, variation in surface finish, loss of gloss, colour fading, mottling or streaking.


  • Surface contamination e.g. chemical residues from manufacturing, foreign contaminant
  • Segregation of components in the material e.g. bulk-to-surface migration (“blooming”).
  • Degradation at/near the surface; chemically or environmentally induced
  • Surface topography; chemical, mechanical or environmental damage.


  • X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) - to evaluate the chemical composition of the surface; provides quantitative elemental and chemical/oxidation state information for all elements except H and He
  • Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) - to evaluate the chemical composition of the surface; mass spectra with imaging, providing both inorganic and organic information
  • Optical Profilometry - to measure surface topography
  • Atomic Force Microscopy - to measure surface topography
  • Complementary techniques: Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-ray analysis (SEM-EDX), Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR).