This document provides an introduction to (and some examples of) the types of information that can be obtained about nanostructured materials using surface-analysis tools (Clause 5). Of equal importance, both general issues or challenges associated with characterizing nanostructured materials and the specific opportunities or challenges associated with individual methods are identified (Clause 6). As the size of objects or components of materials approaches a few nanometres, the distinctions among "bulk", "surface" and "particle" analysis blur. Although some general issues relevant to characterization of nanostructured materials are identified, this document focuses on issues specifically relevant to surface chemical analysis of nanostructured materials. A variety of analytical and characterization methods will be mentioned, but this report focuses on methods that are in the domain of ISO/TC 201 including Auger Electron Spectroscopy, X‑ray photoelectron spectroscopy, secondary ion mass spectrometry, and scanning probe microscopy. Some types of measurements of nanoparticle surface properties such as surface potential that are often made in a solution are not discussed in this Report.
Although they have many similar aspects, characterization of nanometre-thick films or a uniform collection of nanometre-sized particles present different characterization challenges. Examples of methods applicable to both thin films and to particles or nano-sized objects are presented. Properties that can be determined include: the presence of contamination, the thickness of coatings, and the chemical nature of the surface before and after processing. In addition to identifying the types of information that can be obtained, the document summarizes general and technique-specific Issues that must be considered before or during analysis. These include: identification of needed information, stability and probe effects, environmental effects, specimen-handling issues, and data interpretation.
Surface characterization is an important subset of several analysis needs for nanostructured materials. The broader characterization needs for nanomaterials are within the scope of ISO/TC 229 and this document has been coordinated with experts of TC 229 Joint Working Group (JWG) 3.
This introduction to information available about nanomaterials using a specific set of surface-analysis methods cannot by its very nature be fully complete. However, important opportunities, concepts and issues have been identified and many references provided to allow the topics to be examined in greater depth as required.