National Physical Laboratory

Surface & Nanoanalysis Basics

We study the measurement of the physical and chemical properties of surfaces down to the nanoscale, from biological samples to electronic components.

What is Surface and Nanoanalysis?

Surface and nanoanalysis involves characterising atoms and molecules at surfaces and interfaces, both at the microscale and nanoscale. Surface and interfacial chemistries are central to the correct operation and novel properties of many products and devices, such as nanotechnologies, medical devices, drug delivery and the next generation of organic electronic displays.

At NPL, we use a range of state-of-the-art techniques for surface analysis under vacuum, ambient or liquid environment. This allows us to obtain key quantitative information on physical properties and chemical composition with nanometre resolution. With these techniques we are:

Surface and Nanoanalysis Techniques

Each surface and nanoanalysis technique gives different information at different spatial resolutions, which are shown below. Click on the information boxes to find out more.

Ultimate Spatial Resolution


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