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)

IONTOF GmbH, model IV

  • Mass resolution of 0.00x amu and spatial resolution of approx. 1 µm
  • Mass range of 0-10,000 amu
  • Trace element detection limits in ppm range
  • Seamless positive and negative ion imaging modes
  • Large sample loading area can accommodate up to 8-inch wafers
  • Sub-micron imaging to map any mass number of interest
  • Allows retrospective analysis with data cube giving full mass spectrum from every pixel

Manufacturer's website:

Zeiss FESEM Instrument in ICAL

Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopes (FE SEM)

Zeiss SUPRA 55VP and Zeiss Ultra 55

  • Dual FE-SEMs to give in-depth analysis of varied samples from biological to geological systems
  • Ultra-high resolution at low accelerating voltage to allow nanometer scale imaging 
  • Large area and fast EBSD and EDS mapping with state-of-the art Oxford Detectors (Symmetry and Ultim Max, respectively).
  • Electron beam lithography capability
  • Variable pressure and high vacuum modes available
  • Large volume sample analysis chamber
  • Backscatter and secondary electron imaging and InLens detector
  • Cathodoluminescence imaging with state-of-the-art Delmic system

Manufacturers' websites:

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

Oxford Cypher Atomic Force Microscope (AFM)

Cypher AFM (with Blue Drive)

  • 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


Photo of instrument X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometer

X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometer (XPS)

Physical Electronics 5600 (Not Available 2022)
  •  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 (AES)

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

OLYMPUS BX-61 (Not Available 2020)
  •  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
metal coaters

Metal Coaters for SEM sample prep

Emitech K575X peltier cooled metal coaters 
  • For sputter coating samples for SEM prep with metal conductive layer 
  • Two coaters: Dual source and dedicated source with interchangeable metal targets 
  • Dual source coater can provide alternating metal layers 
  • Adjustable current and time settings to give controlled layer thicknesses of 10-20 nm 
  • Available targets are iridium, gold, silver, platinum, and gold palladium to different applications 

Manufacturer's website:

video contact angle system

Video Contact Angle System

VCA 3500XE - ASC Products
  • Provides contact angle measurement
  • Determines surface energy
  • Hydrophilicity/hydrophobicity of surfaces
  • Gives information on surface cleanliness, roughness, etc.

Manufacturer's website:

zeta potential meter

Zeta Potential Meter

Zeta-meter 4.0
  • Provides indirect measure of the net charge on a nanoparticle
  • Zeta potential values are determined via electrophoretic mobility measurements
  • Obtains zeta potential values of nanoparticles in aqueous solution
  • Gives criteria for the tendency of particles to flocculate (aggregate)

Manufacturer's website: