Analytical chemistry

In addition to fundamental and strategic basic research, imo-imomec also offers scientific services in collaboration with the industry. For these scientific services imo-imomec focusses on four pillars: analytical chemistry, analytical microscopy, device physics & engineering, and packaging technology.

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Meet ACC

The Analytical & Circular Chemistry (ACC) expert group, formerly Applied and ANalytical Chemistry (TANC), belongs to the Material Chemistry research group (MATCHEM) and has built up expertise in the field of chemical analysis for more than 40 years. ACC plays a prominent role for the researchers within imo-imomec in the materials engineering and chemical characterisation of new material systems. In addition, ACC carries out applied and contract research on a daily basis in cooperation with industry.

Typical activities include the development and application of appropriate analytical strategies for quality control, reverse engineering, product development and valorisation of waste/by-product streams. Discovering the underlying chemical structure-property relationships plays a central role in this. Within ACC, you can count on the deployment of a wide range of complementary and combined analysis techniques based on thermal analysis, rheology, chromatography and various forms of spectroscopy. The work is always carried out by a fixed team of experienced researchers and expert laboratory technicians.

In addition to the fields listed in the left menu, the group has also developed strong expertise in circular and green processes, including the monitoring of pyrolysis, adsorption and extractive and leaching processes.
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To ensure the stability of materials after exposure to changing conditions, thermal, mechanical or colloidal stability monitoring can be offered. Thermal stability includes all measurements designed to monitor the response of a material under changing temperature conditions. This concerns the measurement of weight loss by evaporation or outgassing of volatile components, the monitoring of phase transitions and the analysis of decomposition processes.

Imo-imomec has various devices at its disposal that monitor the heat management, the weight and the released gases in function of a meticulously controlled temperature. The tests offered can be performed under different environmental conditions (e.g. under inert atmosphere) to determine different degradation modes. In addition, mechanical properties such as the visco-elastic behaviour can also be monitored. Finally, know-how and equipment is also available to assess the stability of dispersions based on particle size distributions and surface charge.


Imo-imomec has significant expertise in studying degradation phenomena and their effect on the structure and properties of materials. This enables us to perform subsequent analyses for a wide range of application domains:

  • Stability of phase morphology at the nanometre scale of (pharmaceutical) formulations as a function of storage conditions
  • Characterisation of elastic and viscous behaviour as a function of temperature, stretching, strain rate and expansion
  • Determination of moisture content, volatile organic compounds, softening, glass transition temperature, melting and crystallisation
  • Study of evolutions in particle size and specific surface area, both at the nanometre and micrometer scale
  • Analysis of (thermal) stability as a function of time, environment, cross-linking, molecular weight and additives
  • Simulation of combustion and pyrolysis processes
  • ...


A wide range of materials can undergo stability analysis. The requirements of specimens depend on the type of stability investigation and the analytical techniques.

Typical examples of preparations for colloidal stability studies are:

  • Dispersions of e.g. oxides, clays and carbon particles
  • Powders that can be dispersed
  • ...

Typical examples of preparations for thermogravimetric analyses are:

  • Polymers
  • Fillers
  • Biomass
  • ...

Typical examples of specimens for mechanical stability testing are:

  • Polymer sticks
  • Inks
  • Oils
  • ...

Key equipment

Within the stability study, imo-imomec can call on various specialised tools to solve the problem. An overview is given below.

  • NMR spectroscopy and relaxometry
  • Zeta-potential
  • TG-MS
  • DMA
  • TMA
  • DSC
  • TGA
  • DLS
  • BET
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Surfaces, films and coatings can be visualised to explain their uniformity, morphology, optical transparency, reflection and adhesive properties. Contaminations and imperfections in all kinds of functional layers can also be studied.

2D scanning techniques can be offered including infrared mapping and coupling of optical microscopy with infrared spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy. This allows local differences in molecular composition (micrometer scale) to be revealed. Moreover, infrastructure is available to apply in-house coatings at lab scale.


Imo-imomec has significant expertise in analysing coatings. This enables us to carry out subsequent analyses for a wide range of application areas:

  • Molecular identification of discolourations, bulges and other imperfections in coatings
  • Evaluation of wetting and surface energy through contact angle measurements
  • Measurement of the properties of UV reflective or absorbent coatings
  • Identification of pigments and additives
  • ...


Within the coating research, micrometer scale coatings can be investigated. Typical examples of samples for this coating research are:

  • Thin-film solar cells
  • Metallic coatings
  • Hydrophobic coatings
  • Scratch-proof coatings
  • ...

Key equipment

Within the coating research, imo-imomec can make use of several specialised tools to solve the problem.

  • UV-VIS spectroscopy (transmission, absorption and reflection)
  • Optical microscopy with polarizers
  • FTIR spectroscopy and mapping
  • Cross-sectional adhesion tester
  • Contact angle meter
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Chemical composition

Materials can be identified using a wide range of analytical techniques. Both elemental and molecular composition of complex mixtures are evaluated in a qualitative and quantitative way (up to ppb level).

Over the years, imo-imomec has built up a strong expertise in the determination of metal (ions) in all kinds of materials. This is usually done in combination with specially designed digestion methods using microwaves, strong acids and fluxes. Furthermore, a top expertise in NMR spectroscopy ensures that the composition of almost every organic material can be deciphered.


Imo-imomec has an important core expertise in identifying chemical compounds. This enables us to perform the following analyses for a wide range of application areas:

  • Verification of the molecular structure of a synthesised compound
  • Determination of impurities and residual water in solvent mixtures
  • Determination of the amount of precious metal on catalyst particles
  • Non-destructive determination of stainless steel type
  • Determination of the protein content of foodstuffs
  • Analysis of pharmaceutical components (NMR)
  • ...


Understanding molecular or elemental composition is an important piece of the puzzle in answering many research questions. Typical examples of chemical composition preparations are:

  • Pharmaceutical components
  • Synthesised compound
  • Catalyst particles
  • Foodstuffs
  • Solvent mixtures
  • (Stainless) steel
  • ...

Key equipment

For chemical compositions, imo-imomec can rely on several specialised tools to solve the problem. An overview is given below.

  • MALDI-ToF mass spectrometry
  • CHN Dumas element analysis
  • NMR spectroscopy
  • Kjeldahl nitrogen
  • Karl-Fischer
  • GC-MS
  • AAS
  • XRF
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Environmental analysis

The analysis of trace amounts of harmful components by undesired leaching, volatilisation or decomposition is often central to studies focusing on achieving environmental standards or estimating long-term effects of products in a consumer environment.

Imo-imomec has an extensive range of equipment to investigate the presence and possible release of both highly regulated inorganic components (for example: heavy metals or metallic nanoparticles) and organic components (for example: PCBs, PAHs, VOCs and perfluorinated compounds). Both screenings and target analyses can be carried out in which quantification in very complex environments is not a problem.


Imo-imomec has significant expertise in the analysis of present and released (an)organic components. This enables us to perform subsequent analyses for a wide range of application areas:

  • Presence of heavy metals (in specific oxidation states), halogens and nitrates in soils and water samples
  • Assessment of the leaching of residual catalyst in a pharmaceutical plastic
  • Desorption of harmful components from polymers, resins, adhesives and sealants
  • Analysis of (antibacterial) nanoparticles on specific surfaces
  • Release of toxic gases after combustion and pyrolysis processes
  • Analysis of endocrine disrupting substances in waste waters
  • ...


Chemical environmental analyses can be carried out on samples collected directly from the environment or on derivatives of materials that may contain harmful components. Typical examples of samples for this investigation are:

  • Air samples and emissions
  • (Waste) water samples
  • Polymer extracts
  • Soil samples
  • ...

Key equipment

For environmental analyses, imo-imomec can rely on several specialised tools to solve the problem.

  • (Thermal desorption)-GC-MS
  • (Single-particle)-ICP-MS
  • Ion chromatography
  • (Pyrolysis)-GC-MS
  • LC-MS
  • HPLC
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Polymer characterization

Imo-imomec is very well equipped to characterise all classes of polymers and plastics. Identification of polymers, composition and regio-regularity of co-polymers, the study of curing, processability and bio-degradation can be followed up with a wide range of spectroscopic and thermal techniques.

In addition, fillers and additives such as plasticisers, antioxidants, process enhancers and light stabilisers can also be determined unambiguously. Furthermore, it is also possible to examine more complex structures (e.g. multi-layer films and composites). Infrastructure is also available to perform extrusions on a lab scale.


Imo-imomec has significant expertise in the characterisation of polymers. This enables us to perform subsequent analyses for a wide range of application areas:

  • Follow-up of the functional groups and molecular weight distribution during a UV degradation study
  • Determination of the relative amounts of constituent monomers in a co-polymer
  • Investigation of the thermal history after compounding of a plastic
  • Determination of the identity and amount of fillers in a composite
  • Reverse engineering of additives and flame retardants used
  • Determination of regio- and stereoregularity of polymers
  • ...


Chemical polymer characterisation can be carried out on all kinds of plastic consumer goods, with the objective of deciphering the structure-property relationships. Typical examples of preparations for polymer characterisation are:

  • Design co-polymers
  • (Multi-layer) films
  • Plastic granules
  • Plastic objects
  • Rubbers
  • ...

Key equipment

For polymer characterisations, imo-imomec can rely on several specialised tools to solve the problem. Below an overview.

  • NMR spectroscopy and relaxometry
  • FTIR spectroscopy and mapping
  • MALDI-ToF mass spectrometry
  • DSC (also modulated)
  • (Pyrolysis-)GC-MS
  • GPC


Dr. Annelies Sels

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Agoralaan Gebouw F, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium


Coordinator services ACC

Materials chemistry

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Agoralaan Gebouw F, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium
Research institute