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How NSF's Materials Research Facilities Network helps bolster the field of materials science and engineering

Materials research can be complex and expensive, and often researchers need the latest technology and equipment to carry out experiments. Not all universities have the resources to house that kind of technology, however, and it was with this challenge in mind that NSF's Materials Science Research and Engineering Center (MRSEC) program launched the Materials Research Facilities Network in 2007. Learn more about MRFN and how it helps bolster the field of materials science and engineering. 

UW-Madison adds new Plasma Focused ion beam and X-ray diffraction equipment

The UW-Madison shared facilities have added a new ThermoFisher Helios G4 UX Plasma Focused Ion Beam/Field emission Scanning Electron Microscope and a PANalytical Empyrean X-ray Diffraction Instrument.

These new instruments add to the already significant capability of the UW-Madison Core facilities. 

The Plasma FIB, is capable of removing ~100x more material in the same time frame as older galium focused ion beam systems.  Additionally, the FESEM on this system is capable of sub-nm resolution and sub-keV electron landing energies for low damage imaging analysis.


Cornell Center for Materials Research adds 300kV Fei Titan Themis Cryo-S/TEM to shared facilities

The Cornell Center for Materials Research has added a 300kV Fei Titan Themis Cryo-S/TEM to the shared facilities. This world-class, cryogenic, high-resolution microscope is the result of an NSF MRI award (1429155). This instrument is equipped with an FEI Ceta 16M camera, Gatan EF-CCD, and Gatan GIF Tridiem energy filter for EELS, single particle applications, cryo-tomography, STEM, Lorentz TEM and low-dose imaging with resolutions as low as 0.08 nm.

UW-Madison MRSEC Shared Facilities add new ellipsometry capabilities

The UW-Madison MRSEC shared facilities have added two new ellipsometers

1.  JA Woollam VASE+AR

2. JA Wollam IR-VASE Mark II

Both of these instruments are immediately available for use to both internal and external users.

University of Utah installs new S/TEM with ultrafast EDS

The University of Utah MRSEC has added a 200 keV analytical S/TEM, the JEM-2800, to its suite of imaging and analytical instruments, in partnership with USTAR equipment match funding.  This instrument is configured with twin 100mm2 EDS detectors to enable tomographic 3D elemental mapping.

Penn State Acquires a State-of-the-Art FIB/SEM

  • PSU is continuing to invest in critical research infrastructure and has purchased a beautiful FIB/SEM (the Helios NanoLab 660).
  • The FIB/SEM adds imaging, analysis and sample modification capability that will be enjoyed by both the Materials Science and Life Science communities.
  • To learn more about the FIB/SEM, contact Trevor Clark (; 814-865-8476).

Penn State Acquires a Titan S/TEM

  • PSU is continuing to invest in critical research infrastructure and has purchased a 60-300kV FEI Titan S/TEM.
  • With the S/TEM, one can image and elementally map with atomic-resolution.
  • To learn more about the FEI Titan, contact Trevor Clark (; 814-865-8476).

Equipment Updates at Northwestern Microfabrication Facility

Northwestern University's MRSEC has recently augmented the cababilities of its Materials Processing Microfabrication Facility:

Imaging XPS at UW-Madison

The MRSEC at UW-Madison is installing a new Imaging XPS (Thermo Scientific K-alpha) in the Materials Science Center. The system can image at <30 micron resolution, and collect and process spectral images in various format. The system is unique in that it will have the first combination Cluster Ion/single Ion sputtering gun in the US, permitting it to efficiently sputter both hard and soft materials, especially uncoated polymer thin films.


The instrument will be added to the database here on MRFN as soon as it is operational.

New Atom Probes at Colorado School of Mines

Recently added to an associated facility of the Renewable Energy MRSEC at the Colorado School of Mines are two advanced atom probe systems, both acquired through a recent NSF MRI development grant led by Professor Brian Gorman.

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