Characterisation and Testing Services

Characterisation and Testing Services


Laboratory testing – materials

A variety of static and dynamic characterizations and testing schemes of materials are available within four different areas.

Characterization of structure: chemical, atomistic, microstructure, and surface properties

The fundamental structure of materials can be characterized by the following techniques. Overall (bulk) chemical composition: Glow-discharge optical emission spectroscopy (GD-OES) and inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES). Crystal structure, bulk chemical composition and phase composition: X-ray diffraction (XRD). Bulk chemical composition and trace element analysis: secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS). Microstructure and local chemical composition: scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Internal microstructure and pore volume: X-ray computer tomography (micro CT). Local atomistic structure of functional groups: Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Surface topography and roughness: profilometer, atomic force microscopy (AFM). Surface chemical composition and surface chemistry: X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Surface wettability: contact angle measurements between liquid and surface.

Environmental testing: thermal, fire, climate properties

The thermal properties of materials, their fire resistance and climate properties can be characterized as follows. Thermal conductivity: Hot plate apparatus and laser flash analysis (LFA). Thermal stability: Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Thermal properties, phase changes: Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Determination of fibre content: Heat treatment, assessment of carbonization of organic components. Fire behaviour: Cone calorimeter (Time to ignition; heat of combustion; total heat released; weight loss; heat release rate; and quantity and opacity of the smoke produced), Single burning item (contribution to the development of fire), Single flame source test (flammability upon exposure to a small flame). Environmental testing: Climate chamber with exposure to controlled atmospheric conditions (humidity, gases, etc.) and temperature.

Characterization of response: Electrical, electrochemical, optical, sound properties

The response of materials to various external, dynamic stimuli can be characterized by the following techniques. Electrical resistivity: DC measurement. Charge carrier concentration: Hall effect measurement. Electrochemical properties: Characterization of the electrochemical properties, like electron transfer, corrosion kinetics using impedance spectroscopy. Optical properties: Spectral characterisation of optical properties with photospectrometer; Refractive index by refractometer. Sound properties: Characterization of the sound absorption of a material using an impedance tube; Measurement of the sound random incidence sound absorption and scattering in a reverberation room.

Characterization of mechanical properties, viscosity, friction

The mechanical properties, viscosity, and friction can be characterized as follows. Mechanical properties: Dynamic mechanical analysis and nanoimpact testing (Mechanical properties as a function of time, temperature and frequency), Hydraulic press (Compression, flexural, splitting and tensile strength, elastic modulus), Izod test (impact resistance using Izod and Charpy Impact Tests), Indentation and nanoindentation (elastic modulus and hardness), tensile testing (Tensile, compression and flexture properties by measuring stress-strain curves), fatigue tester (high frequency universal testing machine). Viscosity: Rheometer (rheological properties of a liquid, including viscosity, plasticity and creep recovery). Friction: Tribometer (wear and friction coefficient).

Laboratory testing – components

A variety of static and dynamic testing schemes of components are available within four different areas.

Testing of thermal and sound properties

Thermal and sound properties can be tested for components as follows. Temperature distribution: IR camera. Thermal conductivity: Hot plate apparatus. U-value: Heat flow meter. Thermal insulation: Hot box. Sound propagation: Ultrasonic transducer. Sound absorption: Acoustic test room, Impedance tube, Reverberation room. Sound attenuation: Anechoic room.

Testing of optical and electrical properties

Various optical and electrical properties of components can be tested. Power output of BIPV with electrical measurements. Bidirectional scattering distribution function (BSDF): Photogoniometer. g-value determination: Solar calorimeter. Color determination: Luminance camera. Transmittance: Photospectrometer. Photometric properties: illuminance spectrophotometer. Thermoelectric generators: power output measurement.

Environmental and fire testing

Environmental testing and fire testing can be performed as follows. Indoor air quality testing.  Environmental testing: Climate chamber. Freeze-thaw-resistance: Capillary suction. Airflow characteristics: Tracer gas tests. Weather tightness: Rain chamber. Humidity exposure: Water bath. Carbonation depth: Carbonation chamber. Chloride diffusion: Chloride chamber. Fire behaviour: Cone calorimeter, Single burning item, Single flame source test.

Mechanical testing

Mechanical testing of components can be performed by (see mechanical characterization of materials for details): Hydraulic pressure, Izod test, Tensile testing.

Large-Scale Testing (Outdoor Facility)

Testing of large-scale outdoor facilities include the following three options.

ZEB Test cell

Characterization of building envelope systems under real outdoor conditions.

TWINS (Testing Window Innovative Systems)

Characterization of performance of advanced active transparent/opaque façades in outdoor operating conditions


The validlab cells are a test rig for facade elements, shading devices and indoor climate.

Living Laboratory Testing

The Living Laboratory Testing include the following three options.

Rebound number – Sclerometer

This equipment allows the determination of the rebound number of an area of hardened concrete using a spring-driven hammer.

Testing with users

Different performance assessments of a full scale prototype/demonstrator (transparent/opaque facade, interior elements) involving user interaction and user feedback (in a residential/office setting).

Testing in controlled environment

Different performance assessments of a full scale prototype/demonstrator (transparent/opaque facade, interior elements) in a controlled environment without user interaction.