Materials Characterization



The ID of materials provides answer to questions about the composition of an unknown material, identity confirmation or identify differences between materials of the same class. Using as workhorses the vibrational and X-ray spectroscopies, our partners could:

  • Identify organic or inorganic chemicals.
  • Identification of natural products and pharmaceuticals.
  • Elemental composition of metals (qualitative to quantitative).
  • Identification of residues, contaminants and foreign particles.
  • Characterization of odd or experimental materials.
  • Scientific advise in analytical techniques.

GeoSpectra provides scientific advise and data and we love the non-standard problems and complex cases or questions that requires scientific research. GeoSpectra is a small-business and, thanks to the lack of costly installations and bureaucracy, we can offer scientific advise to partners with limited budget, as general public, independent professionals and small businesses and companies.

Case studies

Case study #1: Graphene

The graphene is the pinnacle of the technological materials and a promise of future advanced technologies thanks to its wondrous properties. Nowadays, a lot of entrepreneurs are creating companies devoted to the production of graphene and graphene-based materials.


Bulk natural graphite. It should not be confused with graphene. If we are able to separate a monoatomic layer of this graphite piece, this thin sheet is graphene.

The fabrication of good quality graphene is not straightforward. To illustrate this, a partner sent us sample of ‘graphene’ produced by his start-up company and other graphene sample from a company in Spain. The preliminary analysis is carried out by Raman microscopy. Raman spectrum differentiate graphite and graphene and  allow to estimate the quality, based on distortions in the structure and the number of sheets. Ideally, high quality graphene don’t show structural damages and it is formed by a monoatomic layer.


Raman spectrum of the analyzed sample. This is the typical graphite spectrum, so the ´graphene´was actually finely divided graphite.

The analysis of the ‘graphene’ reveals that it is actually finely divided graphite. The analysis of the graphene produced by other company also do not show good news:


Graphene sell by a company as “high quality multilayer”. Actually the spectrum shows high structural damage and too high number of layers

Case study #2: Analysis of iron ores

We routinely perform analysis of iron minerals (pyrite and iron oxides), for both total iron and trace metals.

pirita Navajun

Pyrite from Navajun (Spain)

Geospectra offer the determination of iron and trace metals in pyrites by spectroscopic methods and the quantitative determination of total iron in iron ores and other iron rich materials by the official standard method  ISO-2597.

Case study #3: The case of the erroneous fibers in plasterboard

An architect contacted us to determine the composition of a supposed polypropylene fiber reinforced plasterboard used in construction. The plasterboard had properties that doesn’t match with specifications and showed increased degradation months after installation.

The fibers supposedly were polypropylene:


muestra 5 2

The analysis using Raman microscopy showed that the fibers were actually PET (polyethylene terephthalate)

pet vs polyp

Blue: fibers problem (PET); red: polypropylene fibers

The PET fibers as reinforcement have different durability and usually lower impact strength, split tensile strength, flexural strength and compressive strength than polypropylene reinforced mortars.

muestra 8 2 copia

Polypropylene fibers

Case study #4: The case of the enigmatic powder

A very enjoyable work is to classify and organize the old specimens of a Museum collection. During our work classifying a XIX century collection for a Museum, we found very good specimens, rare objects and mysterious stuff. This is an example: an unknown grey powder in a glass, cork stoppered tube.

tubo misterio

 The only clue is a manuscript note containing a laconic “silver chloride”.   It is interesting to characterize this material, not only for classification reasons, also by health and security: any undetermined chemical should be considered potentially dangerous. The first analysis by spectroscopy shows a high mercury content:

raro raro

A detailed study confirms that the powder contains aprox. 20% of Calomel (mercurous chloride).

In  Geospectra, we enjoy the creative problems out of the standard methods or analytical services. Also, we offer the personal attention and design the adequate research to solve the questions affordable within our field of knowledge.

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