Faculté des Sciences appliquées
Faculté des Sciences appliquées

Characterizing and element mapping of internal parts of a smartphone through automated and correlative microscopy

Reinders, Nathan ULiège
Promotor(s) : Pirard, Eric ULiège
Date of defense : 24-Aug-2018 • Permalink :
Title : Characterizing and element mapping of internal parts of a smartphone through automated and correlative microscopy
Author : Reinders, Nathan ULiège
Date of defense  : 24-Aug-2018
Advisor(s) : Pirard, Eric ULiège
Committee's member(s) : Marion, Philippe 
Gaydardzhiev, Stoyan ULiège
Nguyen, Frédéric ULiège
Graham, Shaun 
Language : English
Number of pages : 146
Keywords : [en] Smartphone, recycling, e-waste, correlative and automated microscopy
Discipline(s) : Engineering, computing & technology > Geological, petroleum & mining engineering
Commentary : In cooperation with ZEISS Cambridge
Institution(s) : Université de Liège, Liège, Belgique
Degree: Master en ingénieur civil des mines et géologue, à finalité spécialisée en "geometallurgy (EMERALD)"
Faculty: Master thesis of the Faculté des Sciences appliquées


[en] This work used correlative and automated microscopy to have a better understanding of
the internal components and structures of a smartphones. The objective is to see if there
is any potential that these techniques can be of extra value for the recycling of electronic
Parallel slices were made out of one smartphone to study the internal structure and
components of the phone. After, the same kind of smartphone was shredded and melted
to study the behaviour of the material after these processing steps under the microscope.
For this research, the SEM and the attached software Mineralogic by ZEISS were used
to provide visual and statistical data. The system proved to be e cient and accessible
in treating waste electronic material. That is to say that the components could be easily
identi ed and classi ed under a speci c name. In the case of electronic waste this is
either as an alloy or as a pure metal. To have a good understanding of the alloy, detailed
analysis by Bruker were often necessary. Precious and critical metals were located and
their internal relationships with other components was studied. Shredding showed how
these compositions crumbled into smaller fractions or kept together as a whole. This
helped for instance to understand how metals are discarded into waste streams during
pre-processing steps as being trapped within other metal fraction, ceramics and plastics.
The molten phone sections showed how the original composition of the di erent components
completely changed. During crystallization, new compositions are made completely
di ering from the original ones.
Mineralogic in association with Bruker proved to be a valid system. However, it was
suggested to segment the sample in di erent phases based on optical microscopy and BSE
images. These phases could be more rapidly analysed under EDS without analysing all
pixel in a pre-determined grid analysis. This suggestion was mainly made to improve the
e ciency of automated microscopy on WEEE samples. Another issue to be faced in the
future is the sample preparation as it is very hard to generate representative sample for
this work. Combination with Ct-scans or other techniques is advised.



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  • Reinders, Nathan ULiège Université de Liège > Master ingé. civ. mines & géol., à fin. (EMERALD)


Committee's member(s)

  • Marion, Philippe Université de Lorraine > Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Géologie > Laboratoire Georessources
  • Gaydardzhiev, Stoyan ULiège Université de Liège - ULiège > Département ArGEnCo > Traitement et recyclage des matières minérales
    ORBi View his publications on ORBi
  • Nguyen, Frédéric ULiège Université de Liège - ULiège > Département ArGEnCo > Géophysique appliquée
    ORBi View his publications on ORBi
  • Graham, Shaun
  • Total number of views 32
  • Total number of downloads 308

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