case studies

California Measurements instruments have been used for diverse applications in laboratories and at unique onsite locations all over the world. Our samplers are portable and rugged with an excellent track record of reliability for use in the field. Learn more about specific case studies and how results were achieved.

Sampling Air-Suspended Particulate Contaminants from Disk Drives

Our MPS-3 Microanalysis Particle Samplers have helped many engineers collect samples from computer disk drives for microanalysis and solve contamination problems.

The MPS-3 Microanalysis Particle Sampler is an invaluable tool for the engineer to collect air-suspended particle samples from a disk drive for analysis. It is especially designed to make it easy for conducting analysis using advanced microanalytical techniques such as Scanning Electron Microscopy (S.E.M.), Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (E.D.X.S.), Forrier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), and Transmission Electron Microscopy (T.E.M.).

This sampler utilizes well-established inertial impaction to size segregate and collect particle samples. Three inertial impaction stages are used in a series to collect particles greater than 2 microns first, followed by a second stage to collect samples between 2 and 0.3 microns, and with a final stage to collect particles between 0.3 and 0.05 microns. A vacuum pump is included to draw sample air into the three impactor-stage system. The sample collection plate in each stage is of a unique design. It is a standard scanning electron microscope sample holder that has a collection substrate platform of 0.5 inch dia. With this novel design, the substrate material can be of any type to match the requirements of the analytical technique. For example, for E.D.X.S., a thin conductive, low X-ray background, carbon sticky is used; for T.E.M. a standard grid is placed on the platform as the particle collection substrate.

Regardless of the type of substrate, the impactor stage nozzle is designed such that all samples are collected directly on the substrate within a central region of not more than 2 mm dia. The highly concentrated particle collection will enable the microscopist to find the particles for analysis with ease. After sample collection, the standard SEM sample holder is easily taken out of the impactor stage with particles on it undisturbed. With minimal or no sample preparation, the holder can be inserted directly into the SEM so that analysis can proceed right away. These features significantly reduce the microscopist’s time spent for sample preparation before analysis.

This air sample inlet can be connected directly to an air outlet on the drive with the exhaust air from the sampler returned to the drive. This sampling scheme has been used for more than ten years by most of the major disk drive manufacturers, both in the U.S. and abroad, to do research on the contamination modes in a drive or to conduct quality control of drives in production. The unit is supplied complete with pump and is ready for turnkey operation. It can be supplied with different types of SEM sample holders to match the requirements of the type of microscope used by the customer.