The use of Microscopy in the Analysis and Characterization of Surface Coatings and Materials

Michael D. Blanton

University of Southern Mississippi

Michael received his B.S. in polymer science from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1992. Michael has organized and completed numerous industrial sponsored research projects and continues to develop and formulate materials for industrial applications. His research activities include failure analysis and waterborne, solvent-based, and powder coatings formulation, processing, application, and curing.. Research projects include the development of waterborne water repellents, the formulation and processing of thermoplastic powder coatings for high velocity thermal spray, and development of chrome (VI) free aircraft primers. Michael has over 28 years’ experience in microscopy techniques including light microscopy, digital microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive X-ray (ESEM/EDS) analysis. Other analytical skills include DSC, TGA, DMA, FTIR/FTIR-Microscopy, GPC, GC/MS, LC/MS, confocal scanning laser microscopy, and mechanical testing. Michael currently manages several research efforts funded through the Department of Defense and is focused on understanding how materials best protect and prevent the premature loss of assets due to corrosion and natural weathering exposure.


An overview of microscopy techniques and methodologies employed in the characterization and investigation of coating surfaces, interfaces, and defects will be presented. Characterization techniques highlighted will include both light microscopy (LM) and scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray analysis (SEM-EDS). Coating defects and suggested remedies will be discussed. Example images will be presented in this ‘show and tell’ discussion.

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