The Nanoscale Characterization Core (NCC) is an institute initiative to provide state-of-the-art facilities to all institute faculty, students and research staff for nanoscale materials characterization.
- Phase 1 (complete) established state-of-the art facilities for surface analysis.
- Phase 2 (in progress) is providing state-of-the art microscopy facilities.
- Phase 3 (planned) will provide state-of-the-art facilities for nanoscale property measurements.
The NCC is housed in the Materials Research Center (MRC) and dovetails closely with other existing facilities in MRC, particularly the Electron Microscopy Laboratory, the Surface Analysis Laboratory, and other facilities across campus including those within the Rensselaer Nano Center, the Micro- and Nano-Scale Fabrication Clean Room Facility and the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies.
Equipment – Existing Facilities (August 2011)
Phi 700 Auger Electron Spectroscopy (AES) System. The AES system provides detailed surface chemistry at the sub-10 nm scale. It operates by spectroscopy of Auger electrons (a multi-electron emission process) that are generated by an ultra-fine scanning electron probe. Chemical information from regions as small as 10 nm may be obtained, with chemical sensitivity of a few parts per thousand. The Auger signal is obtained from regions within about 1 nm of the surface, and an integrated ion sputtering enables the surface to be continuously removed, so that chemical depth profiles can be obtained. The system is maintained under ultra-high vacuum (~10-10 Torr) conditions.
Phi Versaprobe X-Ray Photo-Electron Spectroscopy (XPS) System. The XPS system provides detailed surface chemistry at the sub-10 nm scale. It operates by spectroscopy of photo-electrons emitted from the sample surface by incident X-Ray or ultra-violet photons. These photoelectron energies provide highly sensitive information on chemical species and bonding in the sample surface region. The spatial resolution of this technique is about 10 mm, with a spectral resolution of < 0.5 eV. The XPS signal is obtained from regions within about 1 nm of the surface, and an integrated ion sputtering enables the surface to be continuously removed, so that chemical depth profiles can be obtained. The system is maintained under ultra-high vacuum (~10-10 Torr) conditions.
Facilities under Development
Nanoscale Facility for Surface Reactions, Growth and Chemistry. This facility will provide two interconnected chambers with the XPS system: a ultra-high vacuum chamber for surface deposition, and a variable pressure chamber (~ 10-6 Torr – atmospheric) for studies of surface reactions. It also includes an integrated mass-selecting focused ion beam (FIB) system for surface modification and characterization, and a vacuum transfer system to transfer samples to the AES system and ultimately other high vacuum systems. The FIB system is operational.
Environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM). This instrument will enable high resolution electron imaging and spectroscopy under conditions of much higher pressure (up to c. 10 Torr) than is available in conventional electron microscopes, which require high vacuum of order 10-6 Torr or lower. The key over-riding advantage the ESEM provides is that it enables samples to be biological samples to be imaged under conditions of high vapor pressure of water, such that they remain hydrated. Multiple other applications to imaging under reactive, corrosive or lubricating environments can also be envisioned. The instrument will also function as a superb state-of-the-art imaging tool, with spatial resolution of order 2 nm.
Who can access
Rensselaer students, faculty, and staff and external users
Rates and Fees
Call contact person; rates vary by instrument
Robert Hull, Ph.D. , Acting Director of Nanoscale Characterization Core
Robert Planty, Manager of Surface Analysis Laboratory
Ray Dove, Manager of Electron Microscopy Laboratory
Location: MRC 1st floor