Nanoanalytics plays a central role today in many areas of materials research, both in the industrial sector and in basic research. In doing so, nanoanalytics encompasses a broad spectrum of methods, to investigate sizes -in the range of nanometres. Here, methods and processes that were not specifically developed for nanoanalytics (e.g. X-ray diffraction, absorption/transmission) also play a role.

All nanoanalytics measurement methods are based on the physical interactions of electromagnetic waves (e.g.: light, X-rays), charged and uncharged particles or a sensor with the sample. As a result of the stimulating interaction, photons are emitted, particles emitted or forces detected, for example, that allow conclusions to be drawn for the sample under investigation.

The investigation and analysis of nanometre-scale structures is having a major impact on the development of innovative materials and products. However, nanomaterials and nanocomposites are almost exclusively characterised through offline analysis methods at present. As a result, the characterisation is separated from production in terms of time and space. Many of these analysis methods are very sensitive to fluctuations in environmental conditions (e.g. temperature, humidity, vibrations, etc.). Furthermore, the samples to be characterised must often be laboriously prepared (e.g. thinned, ground, etc.) and in many cases this is only possible under laboratory conditions. In addition, most characterisation methods require a relatively long period of time to collect the measurement data as well as for data processing and so cannot be directly employed in the process. As a result, there is an urgent need to be able to characterise micromaterials and nanomaterials in the production halls in order to optimise the production on the basis of the results when required.

The beneficiaries of nanoanalytics can be found in numerous sectors. In machinery construction, for example, specially hardened alloys and friction-reducing surfaces rely on nanotechnologies. The thickness and quality of these surfaces help to define the characteristics of the product. Manufacturers of electronic components can also benefit from our network by detecting defects and thus improving the quality and reliability of their products.