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Nano and Pico Characterization Laboratory

An unprecedented collection of instrumentation for surface analysis at the nanoscale and beyond.

Instrumentation and Capabilities

Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM)

The NPC Lab provides both state-of-the-art microscopic techniques to visualize surfaces, adsorbates, nanostructures and devices at the atomic and molecular scale. Since SPM systems directly interact with the material of interest, they are also able to go beyond imaging and probe local physiochemical properties such as friction, adhesion, stiffness/modulus, electrical charge and local magnetism. By combining multiple modes of SPM based on the fundamental methods of Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), the facility enables thorough investigation of local physical, chemical and electrical properties necessary for complete study of an experimental system under a wide range of experimental conditions.

Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) and Zeta potential (ZP)

The NPC Lab offers a suite of instrumentation to characterize the extrinsic properties (i.e., hydrodynamic diameter, size distribution, disperse state, agglomeration kinetics, surface charge) of nanomaterials dispersed in buffers, biological media and organic solvents and integrate intrinsic properties (i.e., primary size & size distribution, shape, (im)purity, chemical composition). DLS and ZP methods are powerful and easy-to-use techniques tfor charterizing a vast array of analytes: nanoparticles, polymers, proteins, liposomes, etc. By measuring either the Brownian motion of the particles using light scattering for size analysis or electrophoretic mobility to calculate the zeta potential, these methods provide a means to fully understand relevant physiochemcial properties at the particulate-liquid interface.

Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)

The NPC Lab provides ICP-MS services for chemical and isotopic analysis in a variety of sample types. This powerful tool uses plasma as an ionization source to determine isotopic elemental concentration using quadrupole mass spectroscopy. Compared to other analytical techniques, ICP-MS offers high sensitivity, low detection limits and fast data acquistion time to enable simultaneous determination multi-elemental composition. Coupling with ICP-MS with separation techniques such as high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) enables the characteriztion of elemental speciation of heavy metals such as arsenic in environmental and pharmaceutical applications.

Other Equipment and Services