Facilities and Equipment

Teaching and research facilities of the Materials Science program are primarily located in Votey Hall (Electrical and Mechanical Engineering) and Discovery and Innovation Halls (Physics, Chemistry)

Many of the faculty in the Materials Science Program have developed individual laboratories to conduct their chosen research topics. In those laboratories, the capabilities to perform a variety of experimental investigations including thin film growth, polymer studies, nondestructive studies, micromechanical measurements, and chemical synthesis have been developed. The Materials Science Program shares the Chemistry Department Facilities and Microscopy Imaging Center. Individual departments also maintain user laboratories which include the sophisticated characterization facilities listed below.

Atomic Force Microscope (AFM)

An AFM E from Digital Instruments (now part of Veeco) is available. The instrument uses localized interaction between a sharp tip and the surface of a sample to yield topographic images with the best resolution at atomic scale for hard samples. On soft biomaterials, the instrument can operate in solution and attain a best resolution about 1 nm. Moreover, the instrument is also a highly sensitive molecular force probe with a large dynamic range, capable to measure interacting forces in the range of 20 pN to several tens of a nN.

Langmuir Trough

This instrument is mainly used to investigate the behavior of a monomolecular layer at an air/water interface. The monolayer is mostly made of amphapathic molecules, such as lipids, fatty acids, etc.

Laser Raman Spectrometer

A Coherent high-power argon ion laser and a Spex double monochromator comprise the heart of the CW Raman facility. Menu-driven computer control allows for straightforward collection of spectra. This capability is useful for gathering data complementary to the usual IR information. Organic and inorganic liquid and solid samples are usually analyzed, though the facility has also been engaged for surface studies.

Light Scattering

Brookhaven BI-200SM light scattering goniometer allows for simultaneous dynamic and static light scattering data to be taken at varying angles. Static light scattering yields the weight average molecular weight, second virial coefficient and radius of gyration of macromolecular structures in solution. Dynamic light scattering yields the distribution in the hydrodynamic radii of particles in solution. Light scattering is an ideal technique for determining particle sizes, as well as aggregation behavior.

Material Processing

A state-of-the-art ultra-high vacuum pulsed laser deposition system is maintained in the Department of Physics, and is available for students in the Materials Science program to use. Its primary function is the growth of semiconductor and metal thin films.

Micromechanical Force Measurements

A Dimension® atomic force microscope for mechanical characterization at micron length scales is used.


The Microscopy Imaging Center (MIC), a multi-user resource on campus, houses six microscopy-based imaging systems that include optical microscopes and SEMs and one TEM.

Mass Spectrometry

There are two spectrometers. The Hewlett Packard 5988 GCMS has a quadrupole mass analyzer and can provide unit resolution spectra by electron ionization (EI), positive chemical ionization (PCI) and electron capture negative ionization (NCI). The inlet of this mass spectrometer is via an HP 5890 gas chromatograph and is used for volatile samples containing single compounds or mixtures. The mass range of this instrument is m/z = 10-900.

The Finnigan MAT4500 is a quadrupole mass spectrometer that can ionize samples by EI, PCI, NCI, and Fast Atom Bombardment (FAB). The inlet of this mass spectrometer is via a direct insertion probe and can provide mass spectra of samples containing single compounds. The mass range of this instrument is m/z = 10-1800.

NMR Spectroscopy (Chemistry)

Bruker ARX 500 MHz high-field NMR spectrometers with multi-nuclear observation capability from 14N to 31P and from 1H to 19F are used. Decoupling 1H , two-dimensional NMR and solid state MAS probe ( 1H ) are also available. A variable temperature capability allows measurement to be carried out from 120 K to 350 K. State-of-the-art computing allows simulation of static and dynamic spectra.

Noninvasive Mechanical Property Characterization Using Ultrasound

First order and higher order Elastic moduli of materials can be characterized using a high-intensity pulser/receiver PR 5000 made by Matec Instrument.

Noninvasive Ultrasonic Imaging

Noninvasive surface or in-depth imaging based on mechanical properties of soft materials can be performed using our home-made acoustic microscope. Images are created by using C-scan. The relevant instruments include: 400 MHz computer controlled pulser/receiver (Panametrics) and Universal motion controller (Newport).


AR-2000 stress-controlled rheometer from TA Instruments has the widest torque range available in commercial rheometers, and it allows for a variety of materials to be characterized. Available geometries include cone and plate, parallel plate and double-gap concentric cylinder. There is also a quartz plate for rheo-optical studies. The Peltier temperature control allows for measurements between -30 and 200 oC. Typical experiments include creep/recovery, stress relaxation and dynamic frequency sweeps.

Semiconductor Processing Laboratory

The laboratory houses all the equipment necessary to fabricate simple semiconductor devices. The principal focus of the laboratory's research is the thin film deposition of single crystal material films. This is performed by electron cyclotron resonance-plasma enhanced-reactive sputtering (ECR-PE-RS). In addition to these two ECR reactors, a complete photolithographic capability, a thermal evaporator, sputterer, reactive ion etcher, bonder and diffusion furnace are also available.

For characterization, the laboratory has a Phillips high resolution x-ray diffractometer for the immediate determination of epitaxial quality. Other thin films characterization facilities include ellipsometry, Dectak profilometer and I-V and C-V probe station. Photoluminescence facilities to perform optical characterization in the visible and infrared region is also available.

Small-Angle Neutron Scattering

These studies are carried out at NIST or at Argonne.


There are several FTIR instruments including a Perkin Elmer 2000 (400 to 4000) for routine use.

Thermal Analysis

A Differential Scanning Calorimeter, DSC 7 from Perkin Elmer, is used to study phase transitions, such as melting transition of organic molecules and the main phase transition in lipid bilayers. It can run over a wide temperature range, from the freezing point of water to several hundreds of a degree (in centigrade).

X-ray Diffraction and Scattering

A computer-controlled Nicolet P-4 single crystal X-ray diffractometer with Mo tube for crystal structure determination. Data acquisition and structural solution/refinement are carried out completely by the system in only a few days per analysis.

A Scintag two-circle X-ray diffractometer is available for the study of non-crystalline solids and surfaces. A Philips powder diffractometer has been configured for studies on semiconductors.

A Rigaku 18KW generator is used to carry out small-angle x-ray scattering and is equipped with mirror collimation and phosphor image plate detector. Wide-angle x-ray diffraction is carried out on the same generator using point collimation and a Bruker GADDS area detector.

A Rigaku 3 KW generator is used to carry out surface-enhanced scattering using Osmic optics on a Rigaku goniometer.

Three Philips powder diffractometers are also available, each dedicated to routine powder/film analysis, low temperature LN2 to 300 ºC, and high temperature (up to 1600 ºC).

X-ray scattering is also carried out at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) at Brookhaven, Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne and Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) at Cornell. UVM Materials Science faculty members are founding members of a research consortium along with groups from Boston University (Prof. Karl Ludwig) and The Naval Research Laboratory (Dr. Charles Eddy) focusing the beam-line X21 at NSLS. The consortium includes thin film growth chambers with in-situ x-ray diffraction capability and a small-angle diffraction user facility.