Skip to:

MRFN Member Login
Program Application

Surface & Materials Characterization

Shared facilities operated by the Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience (NCMN). The Surface and Materials Characterization Facility (SMCF) provides state-of-the-art instruments for nanometer-scale surface measurement, thermal analysis, and mechanical characterization of a vari­ety of materials.

The SMCF facility is currently defined in three ar­eas (bays) as scanning probe microscopy, thermal and optical analysis, and mechanical characterization and sample preparation. The scanning probe microscopy (SPM) bay contains three SPM microscopies, including BRUKER ICON SPM, EnviroScope Atomic Force Microscope, and Dimension 3100 SPM system. The SPM offers simultaneous high-magnification observation of 3-dimentional images and related physical properties, as well as measurements in various environments. Two thermal analysis systems: a differential scanning calorimeter (DSC 204 F1 Phoenix) and a thermogravimetry analysis system (TGA 209 F1 Libra) allow users to study and measure various thermal properties of materials such as glass-transition, melting, and crystallization temperatures. Also available is an Olympus BX51 polarizing optical microscope which includes differential interference contrast capabilities for sample viewing and image analysis.  In addition, the thermal behavior of a sample can be observed under the microscope using a Mettler Toledo FP900 thermal system equipped with a FP 82 hot stage with a temperature range from room temperature to 375° C. The mechanical characterization and sample preparation bay houses the following: (1) Tukon 2500 Knoop/Vickers Hardness tester, (2) BUEHLER ISOMet 1000 Precision Saw, (3) BUEHLER MiniMet 1000 Grinder-polisher, (4) Sartorius Cubis MSU2.7S-000-DM Microbalance, and (5) A new annealing system with high magnetic field of 4.5 T will be available very soon.


  1. Bruker Dimension ICON Atomic Force Microscope
    Bruker Dimension Icon® Atomic Force Microscope is equipped with ScanAsyst® automatic image optimization mode based on PeakForce Tapping technology, which enables users to obtain consistent high-quality results more easier and faster. This system is capable of many SPM applications (contact mode AFM, tapping mode AFM, ScanAsyst peakforce tapping mode, AFM in fluid, Phase imaging, piezoresponse, MFM, KPFM, and many others.) The following unique new capabilities will broaden our current SPM applications:
    • Material Mapping
    • Electrical Characterization
  2. DI EnviroScope Atomic Force Microscope

    The Digital Instruments EnviroScope Atomic Force Microscope (ESCOPE) combines AFM imaging with environmental controls and hermetically sealed sample chamber to perform contact, lateral force, and TappingMode atomic force microscopy in air, vacuum, or a purged gas, as well as a heating environment. With advanced environmental capabilities, users can observe sample reactions to a variety of complex environmental conditions while scanning.

  3. DI Nanoscope IIIa Dimension 3100 SPM system

    The Digital Instruments Nanoscope IIIa Dimension 3100 SPM system provides high resolution 3D images for characterization of a large variety of materials, such as nanoparticles, polymers, DNA, semiconductor thin films, magnetic media, optics and other advanced nanostructures. SPM can provide a wealth of information from topography, surface morphology, to magnetic phase or friction analysis, including line width, grain size, thin film thickness, roughness measurements, sectioning of surfaces, particle analysis, surface defects, and pattern recognition, etc.

  4. Thermal Analysis Systems

    - Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC 204 F1 Phoenix)

    - Thermogravimetry Analysis System (TGA 209 F1 Libra)

    Both systems operate through a large temperature range -175°C to 700°C for the DSC and 25°C to 1100°C for the TGA. These systems allow users to study and measure various thermal properties of materials such as; glass-transition temperatures, melting temperatures, melting enthalpy, crystallization temperatures, crystallization enthalpy, transition enthalpies, phase transformations, phase diagrams and other thermal properties.