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Advanced Material Analysis Technology

Toward higher image quality - analysis of the chemical components in toner particles using a nanolevel 3D observation technique

3D Analysis of organic compounds in Toner Particles

Toner plays a significant role in achieving higher performance for copiers and printers. In toner particles just 5 microns in diameter, a lot of organic materials are dispersed complicatedly. Using a scanning transmission microscope (STXM), Ricoh, in collaboration with McMaster University of Canada, has succeeded in 3D chemical component analysis of toner particles at the nanometer level.

Toner particles are embedded in an epoxy resin, which is sliced into thin sections that are loaded into the STXM. Serial analysis of toner components is performed section by section. Figure 1 shows a 3D representation of stacked images of serial analysis results like the result of Computer Tomography. The whitish area at the center of the 3D image shows one-third of a toner particle, and the different colored contrasts within the whitish area indicate the dispersion of organic compounds in a toner particle.

Figure 1: 3D image of a single toner particle with a cut-out.
Figure 1: 3D image of a single toner particle with a cut-out.

In this way, we have made it possible to ascertain various kinds of organic compounds dispersed in toner particles, which previously could only be presumed from images obtained with a transmission electron microscope (TEM).

Applications for the Technology

These results contribute to the development of toner by making it possible to confirm whether or not toner is produced as designed.

Furthermore, this analysis technique is expected to be applied in the development of devices made of various organic materials for use in future memory devices, displays, and other products.