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Materials Synthesis and Characterization Facility

materials synthesis

The Materials Synthesis and Characterization Facility includes laboratories for producing nanostructured materials and characterizing their basic structural, chemical and optical properties.

The facility staff has significant experience in solution-phase chemistry of nanocrystal/nanowire materials, inorganic synthesis by chemical vapor deposition, physical vapor deposition, and atomic layer deposition.  The staff includes experts in techniques of nanoscale fabrication by self-assembly. The facility also supports infrastructure and expertise in solution-based processing of organic thin films, including tools for spin-casting, thermal processing, and UV/ozone treatment.

Analytical tools include a broad range of capabilities for structural, electrochemical, spectroscopic and thermal characterization of materials.


  • Synthesis of nanostructures by chemical vapor deposition and solution-based methods Solution-based synthesis of a variety of soft, biological, hybrid, and inorganic nano-materials and functionalization routes for surfaces and nano-objects
  • Self-assembly methods for polymers
  • Solution-based processing of organic thin films by spin-casting and dip coating
  • Preparation of DNA- and protein-based nanostructures Gel-based DNA purification, conventional and real-time PCR for DNA amplification
  • Structural and functional probing of nanostructures using x-ray scattering, optical, and scanning probes methods
  • Electrical characterization under various temperature, magnetic field, and illumination conditions

Inorganic Materials Synthesis

Contact: Mingzhao Liu

Inorganic nanomaterials synthesis and characterization capabilities include solution-phase and chemical vapor deposition methods, electrochemical deposition, x-ray diffraction, thermal measurement equipment, and oxygen-free processing environments. An electrochemistry workstation (Princeton Applied Research Parastat 2273-SYS Potentiostat) which is used for general electrochemistry synthesis and measurements.

The X-ray diffractometer (Rigaku Miniflex II) is a basic powder diffractometer for phase identification. Thermal measurement equipment, Thermogravimetry/ Differential Thermal Analyzer/ Differential Scanning Calorimetry (TG/DTA/DSC), has simultaneous DTA/TGA and DSC capabilities for analyzing reactions and phase transitions. The glovebox (M. Braun Labmaster 130) is used for processing air and moisture sensitive materials.  

Macromolecular and Nanomaterial Synthesis & Assembly

Contact: Fang Lu and  Oleg Gang 

Capabilities include techniques and methods required for the synthesis, fabrication and study of novel hybrid structures and functionalities using regulated nanoscale assembly and self-organization approaches. Capabilities and expertise include solution-based synthesis and characterization (FTIR Thermo Scientific Nicolet 6700, Circular Dichroism Spectrometer - Jasco J-815,HPLC, Quantitative PCR) of a variety of soft, biological, hybrid and inorganic nanomaterials, advanced functionalization routes for surfaces and nano-objects, selective biomolecular recognition and DNA scaffolding.

Thin-Film Processing

Contact: Charles Black 

The group supports a thin-film materials processing laboratory outside the cleanroom environment, which includes facilities for air-free materials processing and atomic layer deposition (ALD) of inorganic thin films. The laboratory also includes small, versatile versions of the Nanofabrication Facility toolset such as facilities for organic film deposition by spin-coating and thermal processing in vacuum or inert gas environments. A March Plasma CS1701F reactive ion etch tool supports SF6, CHF3, CF4, CF3Br, and O2 gas chemistries. Metal film deposition by thermal evaporation and DC magnetron sputtering is supported by a Kurt J. Lesker PVD75 tool. The laboratory includes chemical fume hoods and optical microscopes for sample processing and inspection.

Hitachi 4800 SEM and JEOL-7600F (analytical SEM) status and related information

Structural and Spectroscopic Probing

Contact: Dmytro Nykypanchuk and Oleg Gang 

In-situ structural characterization can be performed for surfaces, thin films nanoparticles, biological complexes, nanofabricated structures and hybrid composites under environmental condition. We utilize the range of x-ray (Rigaku Ultima III), optical (Ellipsometer J.A. Woollam M-2000 , Dynamic Light Scattering with Zeta Potential - Malvern Zetasizer Nano) , spectroscopic (Photon Counting Spectrofluorometer - ISS PC1/K2, Uv-Vis/NIR Spectrophotometer - PerkinElmer Lambda 950) and scanning probe methods (Asylum Research MFP-3D) for structure characterization.