Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Materials Science


User Facilities

Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) Laboratory

The KNI transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries, with two principal areas of focus: nanobiotechnology and nanophotonics. Its common methodology in these areas is large-scale integration of nanoscale devices—that is, going beyond the present nanoscience of individual structures to realize interacting systems capable of unprecedented emergent functionality.

Transmission Electron Microscopy Facility

The Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) Facility is located in the subbasement of the Keck Laboratory (Room B242). We have one transmission electron microscope for materials research, maintained under contract with FEI Service.

Scanning Electron Microscopy

We are using an SEM that is maintained by the Geology and Planetary Sciences Division, and is available at low cost for analytical work.

X-Ray Diffractometry

The Faber group operates an X-ray powder diffractometer, a PANalytical X'Pert Pro located in Steele 339, with a wide range of capabilities.

Micro Nano Fabrication Laboratory

This laboratory is a campus–wide resource for thin film processing for a wide variety of disciplines including photonics, biophysics, electronics, chemistry, and materials science.

Specialized Facilities

Plasma Physics Facilities (Bellan)

Professor Bellan’s plasma group has two large vacuum plasma systems each with two different, well diagnosed experiments running, a small test stand, and a water-ice dusty plasma setup. There are six different high power capacitor banks and numerous smaller pulsed power supplies. Diagnostics include a framing camera capable of taking movies at two hundred million frames per second, a high-resolution, gated, intensified 1 meter monochromator, 136 channels of 100 MHz digitizers, and a great variety of vacuum, optical, and electronic equipment.

Inelastic Neutron Scattering

Professor Fultz is principal investigator on the ARCS spectrometer, to be built at the Spallation Neutron Source.

Mössbauer Spectrometry

The Fultz group maintains two Mössbauer spectrometers which can be equipped with a transmission gamma-ray detector, backscatter conversion electron detector, or backscatter gamma-ray detector. A liquid helium cryostat and a furnace allow measurements over the temperature range 3 - 800 K. One of these units is being developed for Mössbauer diffraction experiments.


The Johnson group owns and maintains a Netzsch DSC(DTA) 404C differential thermal analyzer/calorimeter, as well as the following equipment by PerkinElmer: TGA 7 (thermogravimetric analyzer), DSC 7 (differential scanning calorimeter), TMA 7 (thermomechanical analyzer), and a Diamond TMA. The usable temperature range varies per machine, however the thermal analysis suite spans 60-1800 K.

Simultaneous Calorimetric and Gravimetric Analysis

For experiments in which sample variability dictates that calorimetric and gravimetric analyses be performed simultaneously, we have a Netzsch STA 449. This instrument offers much greater sensitivity in terms of both thermal events and weight change than the PerkinElmer instruments. The temperature range accessible is 300K to 1873K. An evolved gas analyzer will soon be installed for elucidating material decomposition pathways.

Melting and Processing

Ingots can be melted with our Edmund Buehler (Tubingen) D-7400 Arc-Melting Apparatus. Its stainless steel chamber (high-vacuum capable with O-ring seals) is backfilled with argon gas. Our second system is an rf induction melting unit that levitation-melts an ingot on a water-cooled silver-boat under a purified argon atmosphere. Johnson's group has modified some of the induction furnaces for work with metallic glasses, such as for injection molding and for measurements of viscosity with controlled shear rates. We have an Edmund Buehler ultra-rapid quenching apparatus for splat-quenching in high vacuum or inert atmospheres. We also have a thermal evaporator with a cold-trapped diffusion pump available for making thin films, and a Perkin-Elmer UHV sputtering system. We have five Spex 8000 shaker ball mills and a second type of ball mill (Nisshin Corp. NEV-8A) with two environmentally controlled milling chambers for milling at temperatures from 100 K to 670 K. A Tetrahedron hot press is maintained by the Johnson group, and a rolling mill, swaging machine and many furnaces are also available.

Thermal Expansion

The Johnson group maintains a PerkinElmer thermomechanical analyzer model TMA 7, interfaced to a PerkinElmer thermal analysis controller TAC 7/DX for measurements of linear thermal expansion. Fultz's group has constructed a system for differential thermal expansion measurements at temperatures from 4 - 300 K.

Elastic Moduli

Professor G. Ravichandran in Aeronautics and Solid Mechanics at Caltech is actively using a 30 MHz ultrasonic analyzer (Panametrics 5052 UA) for measuring elastic wave speeds in solid specimens. Transducers for both longitudinal and shear wave measurements are available, for either transmission or reflection geometry.