Materials Science


  • Limiting investigations to human and environmental factors limits the accuracy of your results. The materials (metal, wood, ceramics, plastics, composites, etc.) involved can contribute, either positively or negatively, to the cause and severity of damages.
  • Materials science is a specialty field that encompasses engineering, physics, and chemistry as they relate to the structure and behavior of various materials. AEI has the materials science expertise to examine interactions between differing materials and environmental conditions, and how these interactions and conditions contribute to material failures at the heart of an incident.
  • The AEI team is also well versed in proper processing of scenes from the careful preservation and extraction of items to the proper transport and storage of this potential evidence for examination. All artifacts are closely examined in the controlled environment of AEI’s private laboratory. Failure analysis begins with documentation and imaging of failed parts and materials, and if necessary, continues into destructive analysis and imaging down to the sub-micron level. We examine fracture surface features using a variety of quantitative and qualitative analysis techniques. A few of the things we look at are stress corrosion cracking; failure, creep and fatigue fractography; surface defect identification; environmental stress cracking; and materials compatibility and selection.
  • Detailed scientific analysis of materials and identifying how they failed lets us zero in on the causal factors that led up to the incident.



  • Metallography, microstructural alloy testing, and alloy standards
  • Rockwell, Brinell, and Durometer hardness testing
  • Stress-strain measurements (tensile, compressive, shear, yield, etc.)
  • Dynamic mechanical analysis (elastic modulus, ductile-to-brittle or glass-transitions, etc.)
  • AC and DC electronic testing (impedance, resistance, permittivity, TTR, etc.)
  • Electrochemical analysis: voltammetry, Tafel, EIS, and corrosion testing
  • Stereo optical microscopy, compound optical microscopy, and digital microscopy
  • Optical and digital metrology, particle sizing, profilometry, and 3D scanning and visualization
  • Electron Microscopy: SEM, TEM, FE-SEM, and EDS mapping
  • Photography and video processing, analysis, and enhancement
  • Fracture mechanics, stress-concentration factors, and critical feature size calculation
  • Spectroscopy: OES, EDS, WDS, XRF, FTIR, UV-vis-NIR, NMR, etc.
  • Specialty chemical analysis: GC-MS, ICP-MS, HPLC, ion chromatography, dielectric fluid, etc.
  • Residue analysis and identification: VOCs, gunshot and explosive residues, accelerants, fibers, etc.
  • Thermal Testing: TGA/DSC, TC, thermopile, calorimetry (heat flux), and FLIR