General Lab Information

Materials Synthesis and Characterization Facility

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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

Electrical Characterization

Contact: Fernando Camino and Chang-Yong Nam

The electrical characterization lab hosts these major instruments:

  • LakeShore Model 8404 Hall Effect Measurement System allows measurement of mobilities down to 0.001 cm2/Vs and resistances from 0.5 mWto 100 GW. Samples can be measured at room temperature and at 77 K.
  • LakeShore HFTTP4 cryogenic probe station is designed for low-noise, DC to 50 MHz, measurements from 4 K up to 400 K under in-plane magnetic fields up to 1 Tesla. Optical sources can be introduced through a viewport window or a fiber optic probe arm.
  • Signatone CM-170 probe station is perfect for routine electrical characterization at room temperature. It is reliable and simple to use.
  • Rucker and Kolls probe station is suited for studying optoelectronic properties at room temperature. It is fitted with a with a Newport-Oriel solar spectrum simulator and optical monochromator.
  • MMR's Variable Temperature Micro Probe System allows opto-electrical characterization of samples in the temperature range from 70K to 730K under controlled atmosphere (inert, vacuum etc.) and light condition.
  • MBE-Komponenten AO500 high-temperature probe station for rapid thermal annealing (up to 500 ┬░C) in vacuum (2 mbar) or in a gas mixture atmosphere (Ar, H2 and N2 regulated by mass flow controllers). The system also allows optical access to the sample and in-situ electrical characterization.
  • Kulicke & Soffa Model 4526 wire wedge bonder.

Inorganic Materials Synthesis

Contact: Mingzhao Liu and Gregory Doerk

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: Chang-Yong Nam and Gregory Doerk

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.

  • Automated Solvent Vapor Annealer (SVA)

    The solvent vapor annealer is an instrument design for controlled swelling of polymer and other soft matter thin films by solvent vapors (e.g., THF, acetone). Automated swelling profiles can be programmed based on feedback control of nitrogen purge gas or substrate temperature using customized software.
  • Battery Tester

    Battery Tester:

    This is advanced testing equipment for research and development of energy storage or electrochemical devices, such as batteries, supercapacitors, and fuel cells.

  • Biomolecular methods: cell culture, cold room, gel electrophoresis and DNA imaging

    Bio Methods:

    Cell culture, cold room, gel electrophoresis and DNA imaging.


  • Centrifuges, shakers, mixers, sonicators

    Centrifuges, shakers, mixers, sonicators:

    Available to provide fast separate substances and shaking or vortexing with tough metal housing at high speed, which is ideal for small volume liquid processing. 

  • Circular Dichroism Spectrometer

    Jasco J-815 Circular Dichroism (CD) Spectropolarimeter:

    Circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy measures differences in the absorption of left-handed polarized light versus right-handed polarized light that arise due to structural asymmetry.

  • Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC)


    The Perkin-Elmer Pyris Diamond DSC is used to perform differential scanning calorimetry measurements under helium purging in the temperature range of -170 °C to 300 °C, or under nitrogen purging from room temperature to 550 °C.

  • Dynamic Light Scattering with Zeta Potential

    Malvern Zeta Sizer Nano Series:

    This instrument (Malvern Zetasizer Nano ZS and Zeta Potential) measures the size (0.6 nm to 6000 nm) and zeta potential of dispersed particles in solution using a 633 nm He-Ne laser. 

  • Electrochemical workstation

    Solartron Analytical Apps-XM series potentiostat.
  • Environmental Atomic Force Microscope, Video-Rate Capability

    Asylum Cypher AFM ES VRS:

    Atomic force microscope with environmental control and video-rate capabilities.

  • Epifluorescent and Polarized Imaging Microscope

    Olympus Polarized Microscope:

    Upright microscope for routine epifluorescent, polarized and bright field or dark field imaging. 

  • FTIR Spectrometer

    Nicolet 6700 FT-IR Spectrometer:

    Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) Spectrometer.

  • Flow Coater

    CFN Manufactured Flow Coater:

    The flow coater is a compact apparatus for casting uniform films of nanoparticles, molecules, or polymers from solution with user-designed film thickness increments or gradients.  

  • Hybrid Rheometer

    Discovery HR-3 Rheometer:

    The instrument is designed to measure mechanical/rheological properties of soft materials, including gels, liquids, and assemblies of macromolecules or nanoparticles at air-liquid interfaces. 

  • LightCycler 480 instrument

    Real-Time PCR:

    The LightCycler® 480 system enables you to perform real-time, online PCR combined with rapid cycling of up to 96 or 384 samples. 

  • Particle Sizing and Tracking


    The instrument provides characterization of nanoparticle sizes and diffusion in liquids. 

  • Photon Counting Spectrofluorometer

    ISS PC1 Fluorometer:

    This fluorometer (ISS PC1 Multifrequency Cross-Correlation Phase and Modulation Fluorometer) is capable of steady state and lifetime measurements (from 1 millisecond to 1 picosecond). 

  • Reactive Ion Etcher (RIE)

    March RIE:

    This tool (March Plasma CS1701F) is used for radio frequency (RF) plasma etching of organic and inorganic thin films using combinations of six process gases (SF6, CF4, CHF3, O2, Ar, and CF3Br). 

  • Spectroscopic Ellipsometer

    Woollam M2000:

    This ellipsometer (J.A. Woollam M-2000 Spectroscopic Ellipsometer) allows analysis and mapping of thin films and interfaces, with temperature control in air and liquids.  

  • Spin Coater

    Laurell WS-650-23 Spin Coater:

    This tool is used for forming organic thin films from solution. System includes a spin coater with variable spin speed/acceleration (between ~500-6000 RPM). It is located in the 6 foot wide hood (1L-10-1) (with HEPA filtration on the hood exhaust), suitable for nanomaterial processing.

  • Sputter/Coater

    Cressington 208HR Coater:

    This benchtop DC sputter coater deposits thin noble metal films (Au, AuPd, or Pt) by DC sputtering. It is typically used for preparing samples for scanning electron microscopy. 

  • Thermo Gravimetric/Differential Thermal Analyzer (TGA/DTA)


    The Perkin-Elmer Pyris Diamond TGA/DTA is used to perform thermogravimetric and differential thermal analytic measurements.

  • Uv-Vis Spectrophotometer

    PerkinElmer UV-Vis Lambda 25:

    UV/Vis Spectrophotometer

  • Uv-Vis/NIR Spectrophotometer with 60mm integrating sphere

    PerkinElmer Lambda 950:

    In addition to liquid sample measurements, the instrument is equipped for studies of films and powders in specular and diffuse scattering regimes.  

  • Wet chemistry synthesis/functionalization of nano-scale and organic materials

    Wet Chemistry:

    Capabilities required for the synthesis, fabrication and study of novel hybrid structures and functionalities.