Nanoscience Facilities

Nanoscience Lab

The Nanoscience facility is located on the second floor of the Summerlee Science Complex in rooms 2109 and 2110. These laboratories program provides undergraduate students a unique opportunity to study the chemical and physical behaviour of of materials at the nanoscale. Specialized laboratory courses have been developed to give our undergraduate students a unique hands-on laboratory experience where students learn to prepare a variety of nanomaterials and measure their properties using state of the art imaging and spectroscopic instruments. The Nanoscience course are jointly taught by members of both the physics and chemistry departments to ensure that our students receive a multidiscplinary education to prepare them for their future careers.


Optical, electorn and force microscopy techniques

Equipment Description
Optical Microscopy Traditional optical microscopy of samples with micron length scales. Both transmitted and reflected imaging modes are available. Fluorescence imaging is also available.
Atomic Force Microscopy Atomic force microscopy (AFM) uses a cantliever beam with a sharp tip to profile the topography surface of the substrate to obtain structural and mechanical properties of nanomaterials.
Scanning Electron Microscopy Scanning electron microscopy is a technique used for high resolution imaging of conductive substrates by collecting scattered electrons (i.e. secondary and backscattered electron imaging).
Scanning Tunneling Microscopy Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) provides atomic resolution of conductive substrates by measuring pico-to-nano currents generated via quantum tunnenling.


Interractions of electromagnetic waves with various materials

Equipment Description
UV-visible Absorbance Spectroscopy Absorbance of UV & visible light to probe the electronic structure of a various samples, such as ions, molecules, nanoparticles and thin films.
Fluorescence Spectroscopy Excites electrons in a given material to a higher electronic state and measures the fluorescence as the electrons return to their ground state.
Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) Dynaminc light scattering measures the diffusion of colloidal particles, with diameters ranging from 0.006 to 6 µm, suspended in aqueous media to accurately determine the radius of gyration and polydispersity.
Multiwavelength Ellipsometry Broadband Elliptically polarized light is used to measure the thickness and roughness of multilayered thin films for a wide range of materials, such as metals, metal oxides, glass, semiconductors, polymers.
Infrared (IR) Spectroscopy Characterization of functional groups based on the IR absorbance by the stretching and bending of chemical bonds. Can be used to identify and quantify chemicals in solid, liquid and gaseous samples.
Raman Spectroscopy Characterization of functional groups based on their polarizability. Inelastic Stokes scattering can be used to identify and quantify the composition of solids, liquids and gases.
Zeta Potential Measurements The zeta potential measures the stability of a colloidal species in solution based on their surface potential. Colloidals with a high surface potential will remain stable in solution while low surface potential species tend to flocculate or coagulate.


Physical measurements for studying the properties of nanostructed surfaces

Equipment Description
Surface Area and Pore Size Analysis Nitrogen gas adsorption is used to physically measure the total surface area, pore size and pore volume of a wide range of solid samples, such as soils, silicates, zeolytes, metals, metal oxides and other carbaceous materials.
Contact Angle Measurements Custom-built optical system used to characterize the relative surface hydrophobicity of solid substrates based on the contact angle that is established between the droplet and the substrate surface.
Spin Coating Capable of depositing uniform, thin films onto a variet of solid substrates by spinning samples at speeds ranging from 500 - 5000 rpm. Examples of films include polystyrene, polyethylene, photoresists, etc.