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Beaming Up the Perfect Paint Job

Monday, June 16, 2014

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New nondestructive technology using radiation can measure paint layer thickness and the size of embedded particles almost to the nanometer, researchers say.

The ability to measure paint layers and particles could be useful for everything from ensuring a perfect automotive finish to skin-cancer detection, say Anis and Aunik Rahman, the father-and-son scientists who developed the technology.

Applied Research and Photonics Inc.

New radiation technology can be used to measure paint thickness in ways not previously possible, researchers say.

"It's a problem that's quite challenging," Anis Rahman told The Optical Society, where the authors presented a conference paper on their research last week.

"None of the current methods are very successful in determining the thickness of individual layers and coatings in a nondestructive fashion."

Rahman is the funder and chief technology officer of Applied Research and Photonics Inc. , based in Harrisburg, PA. The company's terahertz technology is the subject of several patents.

How it Works

Using terahertz-frequency radiation, the Rahmans' system non-destructively sends a beam through a substrate. Some of the beam is reflected back by individual paint layers, and those reflections can be analyzed to determine how thick each layer of paint is.

Terahertz has frequencies between infrared and microwave radiation.

The paint layers and any particles added to it (like metal flakes) can be measured down to the tens of nanometers.

The technology can also test whether paint layers have stayed separate, which would be useful to ensure that a car's overcoat didn't penetrate

The researchers said the technology could also be used "to analyze the structure of skin layers and determine if they are health or diseased," possibly detecting early stages of skin cancer.

The Rahmans are seeking business partners to sell the technology through their company.

   

Tagged categories: Coating / Film thickness; Quality Control; Research; Site/field testing

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