Knowledge of materials and the impacts on product quality

Tuesday June 23, 2015 08:40

Knowledge of materials is essential for solving the energy problems of tomorrow. You can only create a good solar cell if you understand the materials and know how to process them. By conducting research and experimenting with new energy technology, ECN has acquired unique materials science expertise. Specialist Erik Schuring explains the advantages of a well-considered choice of materials for the final product.

"Materials science is an enabling technology in every industry. If you understand the properties and features of a material, you can also determine how it will behave in the process in which you want to apply it. Only then will you know if a material is suitable."

Modern measuring equipment
ECN uses new techniques to find the right texture of materials. Schuring: "For solar cells, we work with nanotechnology, among other things. We can use lasers to create very fine structures for trapping light. In addition, we are investigating which nano-imprint technology creates the best possible structures. To this end, we work with 3D measurement equipment and software that provide more information on a surface area in relation to its application through the use of the right parameters. Our tests with demo set-ups or demo models enable us to use knowledge to improve the functionality.”

Fokker and a number of other companies
ECN's knowledge can also be applied to industries outside of the energy sector, such as the aerospace industry, the processing industry, and the environmental and industrial sectors. Schuring: "For Fokker, for example, we are working on the characterisation of coatings. We can see what is happening in the material by means of an electrochemical test. If there are any little pits in the material where corrosion may eventually occur, then we immediately detect a different electrochemical signal. Moreover, this test is faster and cheaper than alternative tests. It can reduce the costs of corrosion tests by a factor of 10.” In addition to helping companies choose the right materials, ECN also assists them if their installations are damaged or suffer from corrosion. “We can explain why systems seem to suffer unexpectedly from corrosion and contribute ideas to finding a solution.” 

One goal: the application
ECN's expertise extends beyond measurement values. Schuring: "We mainly examine what the manufacturer and user are going to do with the product. I only consider a measurement satisfactory if we examine the entire system - from the selection of the materials to the conditions of use and functional requirements. In this way, we can help our partners move forward.” 

Would you like to know more? 
ECN provides assistance with selecting the right materials. Timely research could prevent damage. Would you like to know more about what ECN can do for you? Please view our presentation on corrosion research and material behaviour or contact Erik Schuring

Category: Juni, Corporate, Engineering & materials