The shared facilities of the NSEC serve NSEC related researchers, other researchers at the UW, and external users from academia and industry. As the dimensions of material systems shrink to the nanoscale, surface and interfacial phenomena play increasingly dominant roles in determining material properties. The NSEC facilities collaborate with and leverage existing state-of-the-art instrumentation, human resources, and user networks of two organizations at UW: The College of Engineering Shared Instrument Facilities, and the NSF MRSEC. Links for the College of Engineering shared facilities and the MRSEC are listed below.
A key Campus Instrument resource created by the NSEC is the Soft Material Laboratory, which includes polymer and thin film growth and characterization, an AFM for high resolution imaging, a variable pressure FESEM for imaging non-conductive sample, with X-ray analysis capability. The laboratory includes the following instrumentation: Gel Permeation Chromatography System (GPC), Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC), Thermo Gravimetric Analysis (TGA), Rheometer, Zeta Potential Analyzer, Spin coater/vacuum ovens/photocrosslinker. Additional characterization instruments include Dynamic and Static Light Scattering, Capillary Viscometer, contact angle measurement, and an Oxygen Plasma tool. Recent additions to the SML include a Zeiss VPFESEM, a Thermo Microscopes AFM with Thermal Probe to allow transition temperature measurements on the micron level, a new FT-IR PM IRRAS system and basic UV/VIS and FT-IR spectrometers. The FESEM is also has Electron Beam Lithography capability, and is used for patterning various resists and chemical brushes for directed assembly of block co-polymer applications.
The NSEC SML physical properties capabilities have lead to the creation a course that covers an introduction of a broad materials characterization instrumentation techniques. The course targets senior undergraduates and is taught by NSEC graduate students and facilities staff. The course contains nine modules each containing a Lecture, and 2 hands-on Lab sessions. The course is designed to complement lecture courses taught in departments by NSEC research such as MSE 421, and CBE 530. Techniques for the following instruments GPC, TGA, DSC, DMA, Rheometry, UV/VIS, FT-IR, XRD, SEM are covered and each student will run the instruments with specific samples and write lab reports as part of the course. For the past two semesters the course has been oversubscribed and we are looking to expand the lab sections.
NSEC facilities have user network partnerships with other universities (Cornell, University of Chicago, University of Texas), national laboratories (Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), and industry (Intel, IMEC, Hitachi Data Storage Systems, Dow Chemical, Sigma Aldrich). The shared facilities also serve as a source of advanced instrumentation for start-up companies, and existing companies in nanotechnology including Platypus Technologies for work on biosensors, Embed Biosciences which is creating nanomaterials products for wound healing.