The Department of Materials has a wide range of facilities for processing and characterising materials. These facilities are available for use by researchers in both academia and industry. For academic users at Imperial College London most of the major facilities are directly chargeable and can be selected on InfoEd. Please discuss your requirements with the appropriate Research Officer and with Research Services. Users from other academic institutions can also access the facilities and are advised to contact the appropriate Research Officer to discuss their requirements. Estimates for the access charges can be provided for inclusion as directly incurred costs on your research grant application.

Researchers from industry who are interested in accessing any of the facilities are invited to submit an inquiry to Dr David Payne, Director of Research Facilities 

Find out more about our labs and workshops for processing materials: 

Find out more about our facilities

Atomic Force Microscopy

Atomic Force Microscopy 

 

Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) is a technique widely used for probing the topography of surfaces at much higher magnifications than those achieved using a tradi-tional optical microscope. The AFM facility consists of two instruments; a Bruker Innova and an Asylum MFP-3D classic.

The Bruker Innova is available for routine analysis of samples and is able to probe the topography of the sur-face using standard tapping and contact modes, as well as electrical properties in conductive AFM (C-AFM) mode.
A wide range of modes are available on the Asylum MFP-3D (shown on the right). In addition to standard topogra-phy we are able to investigate electrical (KPFM), mag-netic (MFM), piezoelectric (PFM) and nanomechanical properties (force mapping and AM-FM).
There is also a liquid cell, electrochemical cell, bioheater (heating from ambient to 80°C, only in conjunction with liquid cell) and variable field module available for use with the MFP-3D, further broadening the range of experi-ments possible within the facility.
Research within the facility covers a wide range of top-ics, including but not limited to: topographical imaging of thin films; topographical and electrical characterisation of 2D materials; characterisation of bio-active materials, and imaging of cells.

 

AFM support and enquiries

  • Dr Victoria Bemmer

     

    Personal details

    Support with

    ATOMIC FORCE MICROSCOPY

    Location

    Department of Materials
    Royal School of Mines
    Lower Ground Floor, LG 60

Electron Microscopy

Electron Microscopy 


This centre for electron microscopy provides modern facilities for advanced materials imaging and characterisation. The facilities include three scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) and three transmission electron microscopes (TEMs), the latest being the state-of-the-art monochromated FEI TITAN 80/300 and FEI Helios NanoLab 600 DualBeam. In addition, the dedicated microscopy team maintain the latest technology in the two sample preparation labs and data processing suite.

Bookings

EM Support and enquiries

  • Professor Alex Porter

     

    Personal details

    Dr Finn GiulianiAcademic Lead

    Send email
    +44 (0)20 7594 1249

    Support with

    Focused ion beam milling, in situ TEM and SEM.

    Location

    Department of Materials
    Royal School of Mines 

  • Dr Mahmoud Ardakani

    Dr Mahmoud Ardakani, Department of Materials, Imperial College London

    Personal details

    Dr Mahmoud ArdakaniResearch Facility Manager Harvey Flowers Electron Microscopy Suite

    +44 (0)20 7594 6739

    Support with

    ELECTRON MICROSCOPY

    General enquiries about Harvey Flowers Electron Microscopy Suite
    JEOL STEM/TEM 2100Plus
    JEOL JEM-2100F TEM
    LEO Gemini 1525 FEGSEM
    JSM6400 SEM
    JSM5610LV SEM
    Zeiss Auriga Cross Beam
    Zeiss Gemini Sigma300
    Sample preparation

    Location

    Department of Materials
    Royal School of Mines
    Lower Ground Floor, LG05

  • Dr Catriona McGilvery

    Dr Catriona McGilvery, Department of Materials, Imperial College London

    Personal details

    Dr Catriona McGilveryResearch Facility Manager

    +44 020 7594 2579

    Support with

    ELECTRON MISCROSCOPY

    Titan 80/300 TEM/STEM
    Sample preparation

    Location

    Department of Materials
    Royal School of Mines
    Lower Ground Floor, LGM 05K

  • Dr Cati Ware

    Dr Cati Ware, Department of Materials, Imperial College London

    Personal details

    Dr Cati WareResearch Facility Assistant

    Support with

    ELECTRON MISCROCOPY

    Helios NanoLab 600
    SEM and TEM/FIB sample preparation for materials characterisation

    Location

    Department of Materials
    Royal School of Mines
    Lower Ground Floor, LG05

Photoelectron Spectroscopy

Advanced Photoelectron Spectroscopy

 

A cutting edge laboratory for photoelectron spectroscopy from ultra high vacuum to 10 mbar

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and ultra-violet photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS) are fundamental techniques in the analysis of the surfaces of materials providing key information on their elemental composition, surface chemistry and electronic properties.

The APSL is equipped with two state-of-the-art spectrometers, one providing high-throughput UHV XPS capability, and the other capable of providing measurement flexibility between near-ambient pressure and UHV conditions for both XPS and UPS measurements.

The systems

High-throughput X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometer – Thermo Fisher K-Alpha+

A fully integrated, high-throughput, monochromated small-spot XPS system with depth profiling capabilities.

Specifications
Analyser Type  180° double focussing hemispherical analyser-128-channel detector
Kinetic energy range (analyser)   100 - 4000 eV
X-ray source  Monochromated Al Ka Micro-focused
Depth Profiling  EX06 Ion Source
X-Ray Source Type  Monochromated, Micro-focused Al K-a
X-Ray Spot Size  30 - 400 µm in 5 µm steps
Optional Accessories holder Angle-resolved XPS Sample Holder, Work Function Sample Holder, Glove Box sample transfer
Sample Preparation Options None
Sampling Area 60x60 mm
Max. thickness sample 20 mm
Vacuum System 2x260 l/s turbo molecular pumps for entry and analysis chambers, Auto-firing, 3 filament TSP
 
Summary of the table's contents

             

High-pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy – Scienta Omicron

A world-leading instrument consisting of both monochromated X-ray and UV sources and an hemispherical electron energy analyser capable of operating from UHV up to 25 mbar, dosing a variety of gases/gas mixtures.

Specifications
Analyser Type 180° double focussing hemispherical analyser-128-channel detector
Kinetic energy range (analyser)  5 – 10,000 eV (transmission), 10-10,000 eV (angular)
X-Ray source Monochromated Al Ka (MX650) consisting of XM-780 X-ray monochromator and SAX-100 X-ray source
UV source VUV5000 photon source and VUV5047 UV-monochromator
Pass energy 5-500 eV
Sample preparation  Preparation chamber 1: Argon sputter, electron beam annealing (up to 1000 oC) and LEED optics
Preparation chamber 2 Argon sputter, electron beam annealing up to 1000 oC, RF oxygen plasma source, spare ports for additional deposition sources and a vacuum suitcase
Vacuum system 13 Edwards nXDS scroll pumps, 12 Pfeifer/Leybold turbo pumps, 3 CapaciTorr getter pumps 
Pressure Better then 2×10-10 mbar (UHV) up to 50 mbar (verified for N2
Gases  Air, N2, O2, H2, H2O, CO2, CO + more
Sample temperature -140 to 1000 ˚C (at pressure)
 
Summary of the table's contents

For further information of the high-pressure XPS instrument and capability please see our recent publication:

Laboratory-based high pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy: A novel and flexible reaction cell approach
G. Kerherve et al. Review of Scientific Instruments, 88, 033102 (2017)


APSL help and support

  • Dr David Payne

    Dr  David Payne, Department of Materials, Imperial College London

    Personal details

    Dr David PayneDirector of Research Facilities Director of APSL

    +44 (0)20 7594 2585

    Support with

    Departmental Research Facilty Strategy
    APSL and high-pressure XPS system

    Location

    Department of Materials
    Royal School of Mines
    Second Floor, 2.09

Surface Analysis

Surface Analysis Facility


Instrumentation

The Surface Analysis Facility incorporates SIMS, LEIS, FIB and optical interferometry. The facility provides state of the art analyses of a wide range of surfaces using time of flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS), low energy ion scattering (LEIS), and focussed ion beam (FIB) microscopy with secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS).

ToF-SIMS is a ultra-high vacuum-based technique for measuring the chemical nature of atoms at and near the surface of materials. The sensitivity of the measurement is often better than parts per million, and the spatial resolution can be within the nano-scale.

Low energy ion scattering (LEIS) is a highly surface sensitive technique, capable of measuring the chemical composition of just the first atomic monolayer. The facility is unique to the UK and one of but a few in the world.

The above two techniques are also interconnected allowing sample interchange without exposure to the atmosphere and maintaining UHV conditions. Sample preparation facilities are available for top atom and molecule layer characterisation by LEIS and SIMS.

Combined TOF SIMS and LEIS instrument

Combined TOF SIMS and LEIS instrument

The microscope-based coherence scanning interferometer enables high-resolution measurement of surface topography, including sputtered crater depths.

Research is undertaken at the surface analysis facility in a range of disciplines, including but not limited to oxide materials for fuel cells, biomaterials, functional nanomaterials, and energy and transportation materials. Much of the research, such as materials for fuel cells, relies on the facility’s isotopic tracer labelling facility and Matlab-based modelling routines for the interpretation of the tracer fraction profile. Research in the facility has resulted in over 40 PhDs and 500 publications.

Surface Analysis Facility help and support

  • Dr Ainara Aguadero

    Dr Ainara Aguadero, Department of Materials, Imperial College London

    Personal details

    Dr Ainara AguaderoAcademic Lead - Surface Analysis Facilities

    +44 (0)20 7594 5174

    Support with

    Full consultations to access the Surface Analysis Facility

    Location

    Department of Materials
    Royal School of Mines
    First Floor, 1.07

  • Dr Sarah Fearn

    Dr Sarah Fearn, Department of Materials, Imperial College London

    Personal details

    Dr Sarah FearnResearch Officer, Surface Analysis

    +44 (0)20 7594 6740

    Support with

    Full consultations to access the Surface Analysis Facility and the the IONTOF TOF.SIMS -Qtac 100 LEIS instrument

    Location

    Department of Materials
    Royal School of Mines
    Lower Ground Floor, LG62A

  • Dr Richard Chater

    Dr Richard Chater, Department of Materials, Imperial College London

    Personal details

    Dr Richard ChaterSenior Research Officer, Surface Analysis

    +44 (0)20 7594 6740

    Support with

    FEI FIB-SIMS and Zygo NewView 200

    Location

    Department of Materials
    Royal School of Mines
    Lower Ground Floor, LG

Thermal Analysis

Thermal Analysis 

The behaviour of materials as a function of temperature is investigated in the Thermal Analysis facility, where the major Thermal Analysis techniques involving the measurement of mass, temperature, heat flow and dimensions are available. With the exception of dilatometry, where a solid specimen is required, typical samples need only be a few mg and can be in bulk, powder or liquid form.

Netzsch 'Jupiter' STA449C and F5 simultaneous DSC/TGA instruments

These instruments conduct both Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) and Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA), simultaneously, over the temperature range of 25°C to 1500°C. This enables the investigation of processes that involve a gas, and therefore result in a mass change, such as de-hydration, decomposition, oxidation/reduction, thermal stability etc., as well as structural processes such as phase transitions, glass transitions, changes of state and crystallisation which have no change in mass.


Netzsch 402E dilatometer
Netzsch 402E dilatometer



Netzsch 402E Dilatometer


Changes in the dimensions of a specimen are detected by a transducer and these changes are then measured as a function of temperature during a controlled temperature program, up to a maximum of 1500°C.

Dilatometry is commonly used to determine the coefficient of linear thermal expansion of bulk materials and also to investigate phase transitions, glass transitions and for sintering studies.


CASC - Centre for Advanced Ceramics
The Department also houses the high temperature thermal analysis facility of the Centre for Advanced Structural Ceramics (CASC). This facility is equipped with a DTA/TGA instrument and a Laserflash apparatus for thermal diffusivity and thermal conductivity, both capable of measurements up to 2000°C, as well as a dilatometer up to 2400°C.

Thermal Analysis help and support

  • Professor Stephen Skinner

    Professor Stephen Skinner, Department of Materials, Imperial College London

    Personal details

    Professor Stephen SkinnerAcademic Lead, Thermal Analysis

    +44 (0)20 7594 6782

    Support with

    Academic research in Thermal Analysis

    Location

    Department of Materials
    Royal School of Mines
    Second Floor, 2.06

  • Mr Richard Sweeney

    Mr Richard Sweeney, Department of Materials, Imperial College London

    Personal details

    Mr Richard SweeneySenior Research Officer, XRD,Thermal Analysis

    +44 (0)20 7594 6732

    Support with

    General enquiries, instrument specifications and Thermal Analysis analytical suitability and methodology

    Location

    Department of Materials
    Royal School of Mines
    Lower Ground Floor, LG61

  • Mr Garry Stakalls

    Mr Garry Stakalls, Department of Materials, Imperial College London

    Personal details

    Mr Garry StakallsTechnician

    +44 (0)20 7594 6770

    Support with

    CASC facilities

    Location

    Department of Materials
    Royal School of Mines
    Lower Ground Floor, LG03

X-ray Diffraction

X-Ray Diffraction 

A wide range of X-ray diffraction techniques is available within the facility for the investigation of polycrystalline materials, single crystal and thin films. Samples may be examined in either bulk or powdered form. The facility is currently equipped with seven diffractometers - two PANalytical Empyrean instruments, two PANalytical MRDs and a PANalytical MPD.

There are also two Bruker D2 desk-top instruments for rapid, routine data collection. As well as conventional configurations for techniques such as phase identification and texture analysis, some of these instru-ments are specifically configured for more specialised investigations, including:

Thin film measurements

Our multi-configuration, Empyrean diffractometer is equipped with a 2D PIXcel® detector and a second beam path with a triple axis analyser, to enable high-resolution measurements on thin films, particularly epitaxial layers.

Small and wide angle X-ray scattering (SAXS/WAXS)

SAXS can yield dimensional and structural information on the nanoscale, whereas complementary information regarding phases and crystallite size can be obtained from WAXS. Our SAXS/WAXS capability is provided by a “ScatterX 78®” attachment operating under low vacuum conditions on a state of the art, PANalytical Empyrean diffractometer. It can be used for the analysis of colloidal dispersions, nano-powders and fibres. The instrument also has the option of a 2D detector for 2D SAXS experiments.

High temperature X-ray diffraction

XRD measurements can be performed at elevated temperatures up to 1000°C using an Anton Parr, environmental heating chamber. This allows the investigation of the thermal behaviour of lattice parameters, crystallisation studies, and the detection and characterisation of high temperature phases.

X-Ray Diffraction help and support

  • Mr Richard Sweeney

    Mr Richard Sweeney, Department of Materials, Imperial College London

    Personal details

    Mr Richard SweeneySenior Research Officer, XRD,Thermal Analysis

    +44 (0)20 7594 6732

    Support with

    General enquiries, instrument specifications

    Location

    Department of Materials
    Royal School of Mines
    Lower Ground Floor, LG61