The MRSEC shared facilities consist of an Orientation Imaging Microscopy Laboratory, a computing facility, a Surface Preparation and Characterization Laboratory, and a Scanning Auger Microscopy Laboratory. These facilities are operated with the following objectives:
- To provide the specialized, sophisticated instrumentation for quantitative materials characterization required by the MRSEC.
- To provide instruction for students and researchers with appropriate levels of guidance and technical support.
- To provide access to specialized experimental capabilities to qualified outside users from academic, industrial, and government research laboratories.
The Orientation Imaging Microscopy Laboratory
The Orientation Imaging Microscopy Laboratory is part of the Earl and Mary Roberts Materials Characterization Laboratory that houses the department's X-ray and microscopy facilities. The OIM Laboratory is the most heavily used facility and now consists of two microscopes. The first is the Nova 600 NovaLab dual beam focused ion beam scanning electron microscope (DB-FIB SEM). The Nova 600 is equipped with an EDAX/TSL orientation system and the Hikara high speed EBSD detector and is capable of milling thin layers from the surface using a focused Ga ion beam so that three dimensional orientation data can be collected. In the past year, we added a new Field emission SEM for orientation measurements (FEI Quanta 200 FE ESEM). The microscope can operate in low vacuum (which helps to reduce charging during the analysis of insulating specimens) and is equipped with an EDAX/TSL orientation system and the Hikara high speed EBSD detector. The facility also includes an Automated Crystallography for the TEM (ACT) system from TSL that is installed on a Philips CM12 TEM. At the current time, this system is only accessible to the expert users that are developing the technique.
To extend our 3D capabilities, a Robomet.3D system was obtained for automated serial sectioning. This system arrived in February 2008 and is now functional. Later in the year, we expect to install an x-ray system that will permit orientations to be determined, using Laue backscatter patterns. This system is complementary to the dual-beam FIB in the sense that much larger specimens (or order 1 cm2) to be scanned albeit at lower resolution.
In response to a pair of proposals from Tony Rollett, the Intel Corporation established in 2007 a parallel computing facility in the Materials Science and Engineering Department whose use is dominated by MRSEC researchers. The parallel facility is particularly useful for the intensive microstructural simulation studies being conducted in the department. This facility is managed by systems engineer Heiskell Rogan and is open to all MSE department and MRSEC researchers. With an upgrade in 2008, the department has added an additional new twenty CPUs, housed in five quad-core blades. The Computer Cluster now has 36 CPUs in total, which permit moderately large scale parallel computation.
The Surface Preparation and Characterization Laboratory
The Center's research demands state-of-the-art sample surface preparation. Our experiments rely on the ability to prepare very flat, polished surfaces, and to remove very thin sections with a high degree of parallelism. These demands are met by a Logitec lapping and polishing system which provides rapid polishing action while still maintaining excellent parallelism. Using the Logitec system, we are able to polish samples flat to within ± 0.5 µm over distances of 1 cm and are able to remove thicknesses as small as 5 µm. The facility also includes optical microscopes, an electropolisher for the finishing of metallic specimens, and an inductively coupled gauge head to determine sample parallelism and the thickness of removed layers.
The atomic force microscope (ThermoMicroscopes M5) in this facility can map large areas of the sample surface both by contact AFM and by optical microscopy. This is accomplished with the ThermoMicroscopes M5 microscope. The optical mapping capability is useful for establishing real space maps of grain boundary positions. By combining these images with OIM data, we are able to construct the high resolution orientation maps needed to measure the five parameter grain boundary distribution. The M5 also features programmable stage motion for automated data collection via AFM. This has been employed to collect very large data sets over extended periods with minimal user interaction. Facilities for the preparation of thin metal film specimens for OIM and TEM studies are maintained in Barmak's laboratory and available for MRSEC research.
Multiscale Manufacturing and Dynamics Laboratory
This facility is maintained in Prof. Ozdoganlar's laboratory and used for a variety of MRSEC experiments, including the preparation of specimens for FIB studies. The main equipment in this laboratory is
- a three-axis miniature machine tool for micromilling, microdrilling, and microgrinding applications,
- A micro-capable laser Doppler vibrometer system for experimentation on dynamics of micro- and nano-scale structures,
- planing equipment for micro-scale material removal (in development), and
- Bridgman furnace for fabricating single-crystal workpieces (in development).