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Equipment/Techniques

MSERF offers a variety of materials characterization and testing methodologies, giving users the ability to explore the structure-processing-property relationships of materials. Our partnerships with Tescan, Oxford and Shimadzu afford a variety of materials, characterization methods and techniques.

MIRA3 FE-SEM
Desk with monitor on it.   The Tescan MIRA3 is a scanning electron microscope capable of extreme magnification, thanks to the field emitter used as the source of electrons.  This microscope is equipped with an extra-large sample chamber, and X-Y-Z tilting/rotating stage that can hold up to 18 pounds.  The microscope features advanced imaging capabilities such as in lens detectors for SE and BSE, Low Energy BSE, Inflight Beam Tracing, Beam Deceleration and a host of measurement and topographic assessment capabilities.  In addition, the MIRA3 is equipped with Oxford EDS and EBSD for elemental analysis, phase ID, x-ray mapping and crystallographic characterization. 
VEGA3 SEM
Desk with two monitors on it. vega3_300   The Tescan VEGA3 is a scanning electron microscope with a tungsten filament electron source and variable pressure operation mode making it ideal for high magnification analysis of conductive and non-conductive specimens.  The VEGA3, like all Tescan SEM’s features unique wide field optics and In Flight Beam Tracing.  The VEGA3 is also equipped with Oxford EDS for elemental analysis and X-ray Mapping. 
OXFORD EDS
Spectroscope   Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) provides elemental and chemical analysis by analyzing the x-rays produced in the electron microscope.  Coupling the Oxford X-Max, liquid nitrogen free detectors with Oxford’s Aztec software platform allows the SEM user to study the presence of different elements and chemical species, map their layout in the microstructure and perform semi-quantitative composition analysis.  Oxford EDS is available on the VEGA3 and MIRA3 electron microscopes.
OXFORD EBSD
Electron Backscatter Diffraction tool   Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) is technique that uses the elastic scattering of the electron beam in the SEM to produce characteristic diffraction patterns, unique to each crystal type.  Using the NordlysNano high speed, high special resolution camera, combined with sophisticated pattern recognition algorithms, the Oxford EBSD system can identify and map polycrystalline crystal orientation to determine a number of material properties and processing factors.  Oxford EBSD is available on the MIRA3 electron microscope.
Keyence VHX 6000
microscope and monitor   The Keyence VHX 6000 is a digital optical microscope and surface mapping instrument.  Imaging and surface mapping can be performed from 20-2000X magnifications and stitched over large surface area.  The Keyence focus stacking technology produces crisp focused optical images far beyond the capability of standard stereo-optical microscopes.  Coupled with Keyence’s feature identification and image processing software, this instrument yields fast results for quality inspections and general dimensional assessment.
Keyence VK-X1000
Laser scanning microscope and monitor   The Keyence VK-X1000 is a laser scanning microscope capable of imaging and surface mapping in excess of 18,000X magnification.  Unparalleled resolution in the optical imaging and surface mapping category makes this unique instrument a bridge between conventional optical microscopy and SEM.  Keyence’s image process software further enhances this versatile research tool.
SPM 9700 - AFM
Scanning probe microscope and monitor   The Shimadzu SPM 9700 is a unique scanning probe microscope offering contact, dynamic, phase, Lateral Force, Force Modulation, Magnetic Force, Current and Surface Potential observation modes.  It subnanometer resolution makes it an indispensable tool for characterization of atomic scale phenomena across all research disciplines. 
DSC 60 / TGA 50
Energy and mass change detection tools   The Shimadzu DSC/TGA pair of instruments are used to determine the minute energy and mass changes of materials over a range of temperatures.  Phenomena such as melting points, solid state phase transformation, oxidation and sublimation are all determined to a high level of precision with these complimentary instruments.  The two share the same workstation and Shimadzu operational software to ensure correlation and compatibility of data.
XRD 6100
free-standing device with a computer and monitor   The Shimadzu XRD 6100 is an X-ray diffractometer used for determination of amorphous versus crystalline content, identification of crystal structure, degree of lattice strain and presence of lattice shift from alloying.  This XRD exhibits high spatial resolution at fast collection rates.
AIM 9000
Infrared microscope   The Shimadzu AIM 9000 infrared microscope is a correlative instrument that allows optical microscopy to be correlated in real time with FTIR spectroscopy to permit chemical mapping of specimens.  With a best in class signal to noise ratio, the AIM 9000 can obtain fully indexed spectra from extremely small contaminants or microconstituents.
UV3600
spectroscopic analyzer and monitor   The Shimadzu UV3600 is a first of its kind, three detector spectroscopic analyzer capable of gathering data from the ultraviolet through the near infrared wavelengths at unprecedented resolution and accuracy.  This device has a wide range of characterization of optical and EM properties for applications ranging from semiconductors and photovoltaic cells to nano materials. 
Nikon Epiphot TME
tabletop microscope   The Epiphot is an inverted light metallograph, which is a specialty optical microscope for examining the microstructure of polished material specimens.  Optical features include polarization and filtering to optimize contrast of resolved features and an automated z-focus to create EDOF images.  The Epiphot is equipped with a Nikon DS-U3 Digital Camera and interfaced with Nikon Elements image processing software.  This combination of hardware and software enables users to analyze particle sizes, phase distributions and determine grain size.  
AGS-X 50kN
tabletop mechanical tester   The Shimadzu AGS-X is a 50 kN tabletop universal mechanical tester used to determine the mechanical properties of almost any material.  Either using tension or compression, the AGX measures load response from a state of the art, high-resolution load cell or the sophisticated video extensometer, producing stress/train curves and toughness data from a range of sample sizes and geometries.  Equipped with an optional environmental chamber, we can analyze materials behavior in different environmental conditions by varying atmosphere and temperature. 
EZ-LX
small tabletop mechanical tester   The Shimadzu EZ-LX is a 5 kN tabletop universal mechanical tester used to determine the mechanical properties of soft materials and small components.  Either using tension or compression, the EZ-LX measures load response from a state of the art, high resolution load cell, producing stress/train curves and toughness data from a range of sample sizes and geometries. 
HMV-G21-FA
microhardness tester and monitor   The Shimadzu HMV-G-FA is a fully automated microhardness tester.  This device correlates microscopic imaging with a materials property tester that presses a small indent into the surface of the sample.  The result is determination of hardness properties on small components and in precise locations.  The integrated software gathers a post indent image to automatically calculate the material hardness, taking the guesswork and human error out of the equation.  The FA model is fully automated, meaning it can optically “recognize” parts based on their geometry and gather data from a pattern of indents, using a mechanical stage all on its own.
SEM Sample Coating
producer of samples for miscroscopy   MSERF is equipped with both Carbon evaporation and Gold sputter coating capability for producing conductive coatings on samples for electron microscopy.  Both Cressington coaters (108 and 108C) operate in manual or automated setup, and are equipped with a rotary-planetary-tilting stage to ensure even, shadow free coatings  
Thermolyne VTF
rectangular platform with silver cylinder horizontally on top.   The Thermolyne Vacuum Tube Furnace is a small benchtop furnace equipped with vacuum and atmospheric control for long term heat treatment.  The furnace operates from a range for 200 to 1600 Centigrade, and is programmable for various temperature holds and heat treating profiles. 
TechCut Saw
tabletop saw   The Allied High Tech TechCut 4 is a precision low speed saw used for sectioning smaller components.  The blade’s cutting surface is continually immersed in a cutting fluid reservoir, keeping the cutting surface free of debris, while cooling the blade.  The position of the saw is adjustable with a micrometer, allowing the most precise parallel cutting to be performed. 
MetPrep 3 with Power Head
black sample polisher   The allied High Tech Metprep 3 is a metallographic sample polisher equipped with a Power Head autopolishing unit.  The nature of electron and high resolution spectroscopic/diffraction methods employed in MSERF demand precisely polished, flat samples to achieve the best results.  This semi-automated unit capable of both grinding and polishing produces consistently flat, uniformly polished specimens that could take hours and produce inferior results if prepared manually.  MSERF is equipped with manual grinders and polishers as well, to meet lower volume, or specialty needs. 
Vibromet II
polishing machine for small samples   The Beuhler Vibromet II is the gold standard in fine sample polishing, and often the final step prior to microscopic analysis. The 7200 Cycles per minute horizontal motion creates exceptional flatness with far less deformation than the prior polishing steps.  This final step is critical for high resolution electron microscopy and EBSD analysis. 
TIC 3X Ion Mill
miscroscope as part of tabletop device   The Leica Ion mill uses ionized argon gas to slowly polish the surface of materials in preparation for highly surface sensitive research methods.  Ion milling is typically the gold standard for final sample prepration for EBSD and SPM analysis.  Multiple stages and modalities make this tool functional for a variety of sample types.