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Monday, 23 September 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Production and testing

Terahertz waves characterize paints without damaging them

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

To keep your new car looking sleek and shiny for years, factories need to make certain that the coats of paint on it are applied properly.

A undamaging check for uniform thickness and quality is now investigated Source: fotohansel-Fotolia.com

A undamaging check for uniform thickness and quality is now investigated Source: fotohansel-Fotolia.com

But ensuring that every coat of paint - whether it is on a car or anything else - is of uniform thickness and quality is not easy. Now researchers have developed a new way to measure the thickness of paint layers and the size of particles embedded inside. Unlike conventional methods, the paint remains undamaged, making the technique useful for a variety of applications from cars to artifacts. "It's a problem that's quite challenging,” said Anis Rahman, founder of Applied Research and Photonics, Inc., in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA. "None of the current methods are very successful in determining the thickness of individual layers and coatings in a non destructive fashion.”

A beam is fired onto the paint

The new technique, which was developed by Rahman and his son uses terahertz reflectometry, in which a beam of terahertz-frequency radiation is fired onto the paint. Terahertz radiation, which has frequencies between infrared and microwave radiation, is non ionising and therefore harmless. The beam penetrates the paint layers, which are each tens of microns thick and bounces back at different intensities of light depending on the thickness of each layer of material the beam encounters. Measuring the intensities of the reflected beams reveals the thickness of each coat of paint down to a precision of tens of nanometers, almost a million times narrower than the head of a pin. This method can also be used to estimate the size of any particles added to the paint as small as 25 nanometers.

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