Sample Preparation Lab(prepLab)

The Sample Preparation Facility (prepLab) is a new, high-precision sample preparation facility – located in 329 Cobleigh Hall. This facility allows preparation of ultra-high quality polished specimens for SEM, TEM, EDX, nano-Auger, EBSD and other microbeam analysis requiring flat, smooth, and damage-free surfaces. 

For the Sample Preparation Lab click here.

Current Instrumentation

Alex with IONTOF ToF-SIMS Instrument

Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (ToF-SIMS)


  • Holds a mass resolution of 0.00x amu
  • Allows for a mass range of 0-10,000 amu
  • Can trace element detection limits in the ppm range
  • Able to create sub-micron imaging to map any mass number of interest
  • Reports a retrospective analysis
Zeiss FESEM Instrument in ICAL

Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope(FE SEM)

Zeiss SUPRA 55VP

  • The FE SEM can analyze surfaces down to nanometers in high vacuum or variable pressure models.
  • A Powerful and easy to use system for electro beam lithography
  • Has enough capicity for even the largest of specimens
  • Ultra high resolution at low kV: 1.7nm @ 1.0kV, 4 nm @ 0.1kV
Carbon Coater in ICAL

Pella Carbon Coater for SEM sample prep

108 Carbon Coater

  • High quality desktop vacuum coating systems
  • 108 series sputter coaters for standard SEM and  EDS sample coating
  • Its dedicated thickness measurement system offers tight controls to create the desired coating thickness
  • Better and more uniform coating on topographic samples
  • Easy to use
X-ray Diffraction Instrument in ICAL

Bruker D8 Advance Powder X-ray Diffractometer

D8 Advance

  • Features a unique D8 diffractometer family platform, perfect for all X-ray powder diffraction and scattering application
  • In addition, there is a pair distribution function for analysis
  • The D8 Advance is also adaptable in its measuring and can measure any sample type from liquids, gases, loose powders, and thin films
Photo of Atomic Force Microscope

Atomic Force Microscope (AFM)

VEECO MultiMode V and Dimension 3100

  • Imaging of conducting and non-conducting surfaces
  • Sub-nanometer resolution
  • Imaging in air and liquid, allowing in-situ measurements and real time imaging of biological and chemical processes
  • AFM can be used to measure and localize many different forces including: adhesion strength, magnetic forces and mechanical properties
  • True 3D imaging and measurements
  • Magnetic, friction, chemical, and phase imaging


Scanning Electron Microscope

Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)

  •  Secondary Electron Imaging (SEI)
  • Backscattered Electron Imaging (BEI)
  • Cathodo-Luminescence detection and imaging (CL)
  • Energy Dispersive x-ray Spectroscopy (X-Flash fast X-ray mapping detector)
  • Cryo-preparation chamber with cold / hot stage
  • High-resolution imaging
  • Digital image capture
  • Quantitative elemental analysis of the "bulk" material
  • Fast elemental mapping and / or linescan of area of interest
  • Topographical and density imaging
  • Detection of small variations of trace element content
  • Analysis and Imaging of samples in their natural, hydrated state


Photo of instrument X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometer

X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometer (XPS)

Physical Electronics 5600
  •  Elemental identification and quantification
  • Chemical functional group identification and quantification
  • Chemical state imaging
  • Surface sensitivity
  • Layer-by-layer depth profiling
  • Minimal sample damage
  • Analysis of insulating and conducting samples
  • Data collection / stage automation
  • Cold stage


Photo of Scanning Auger Electron Nanoprobe

Scanning Auger Electron Nanoprobe (AUGER)

Physical Electronics 710
  •  Rapid sample introduction
  • Low-Z elemental detection
  • Quantitative analysis, mapping, linescan for AES and EDS
  • Surface sensitivity of 1-5 nm
  • Enhanced lateral spatial resolution for elemental analysis (<8 nm with a 20kV, 1nA electron beam )
  • Limited chemical information
  • Sputter depth profiling (three dimensional analysis)
  • High resolution secondary electron imaging of analysis area


Photo of Epifluorescence Optical Microscope

Epifluorescence Optical Microscope

  •  Precision objectives including air, oil and water immersion objectives
  • Suite of reflected (fluorescent) filters (DAPI, FITC/CY2, TRITC/CY3, triple band and RBF)
  • Significantly reduced autofluorescence and signal-to-noise ratio
  • DIC imaging (10x, 20x, 40x, 60x)
  • Digital camera imaging for still and time-lapse observations


Photo of Critical Point Dryer

Critical Point Dryer (CPD)

Tousimis SAMDRI-795
  •  Alternative to air drying for vacuum samples
  • Reduces imaging artifacts 
  • Uses liquid CO2