Access to equipment and facilities for state-of-the-art materials synthesis, characterization, device fabrication and performance testing is a prerequisite for performing world-class research in energy and sensing. The MACES center, in partnership with campus multiuser facilities such as the advanced light source at LBL and LBL molecular foundry, offers a wide variety of instruments for materials synthesis and characterization. Undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty members, and summer participants have full "hands-on" access to all the instruments after proper training and certification. These shared facilities are located in UC Merced’s compact campus, in close proximity to core members’ labs. Proximity and ease of access create a collaborative environment for stimulating and multidisciplinary research interactions. Major instruments and capabilities can be divided into the following five categories:

1. Materials Synthesis and Characterization

Significant instrumentation, e.g. a variety of equipment for vapor and solution-based synthesis as well as glove boxes, is devoted to synthesizing organics and inorganic materials and their applications in polymers, 0D, 1D and 2D nanomaterials and hierarchically functional hybrids. In addition, a variety of functional thin films can be formed using the innovative electrohydrodynamic assembly method, electrodeposition, and vapor deposition methods such as evaporation, ALD, and AC/DC sputtering, among others. We have also established infrastructure for comprehensive materials characterization.

  • Polymer and composite characterization: QA 600 DSC& TGA and Water Gel permeation chromatography, Mechanical tensile testing;

  • Chemical structural identification: Nicolet FTIR and UV-Vis spectroscopy and access to NMR instruments (Bruker 600 MHz and Agilent 500 MHz and 400 MHz) at the NMR facility;

  • Surface topology: Park system AFM and contact angle measurement;

  • Morphological and crystal structure evaluation:  TEM (JEOL JR-2010 HRTEM), SEM (FEI Quanta environment SEM and Zeiss Gemini 500 FEG-SEM) and XRD (PANalytical X’Pert PRO Theta/Theta X-ray Diffraction).

  • Thin film deposition system: Magnetron AC Sputtering system (VTC-1RF, MTI), thermal evaporator (DV-502, Denton), Atomic Layer Deposition (Savannah 100, Cambridge Nanotech)

2. Electrical, Electrochemical, Photovoltaic and Electrocatalysis Performance Characterization

Electrical/electrochemical measurement systems including potentiostat/galvanostat, impedance spectroscopy, semiconductor analyzer, lock-in amplifier and oscilloscope are used to characterize electrochemical catalysis, photocatalysis ionic/electronic charge transport, mechanoelectrical process and other electrical material/system properties.

  • Electrical and electrochemical characterization: Impedance measurement, Probe Station and Semiconductor analyzer, multiple potentiostate stations.
  • Electrocatalysis: RDE and RRDE
  • Integrated Photovoltaic test station
  • External & internal quantum efficiency  
  • Potentiostat/galvanostat/EIS (Biologic SP-200 & SP-240)
  • Environment-/temperature-controlled atomic force microscopy (Agilent 5i500)

3. Ultrafast Optical and Magnetic Characterization

One of the most effective probes of quality and performance of semiconducting devices is optical spectroscopy. The Center has access to several laser systems that can deliver broad spectral excitation, and to many high-resolution detection systems including spectrometers and charge-coupled devices with cameras that cover UV-VIS-NIR range. The measurements of these equipment can perform include:

  • Photoluminescence spectroscopy over 350 – 1700 nm

  • Time-resolved single photon counting lifetime characterization with 12 ps resolution

  • Ultrafast laser for charge carriers dynamics including two-color time-resolved pump-probe spectroscopy

  • High-speed camera for in-situ, dynamic observation  

4. Biomolecular synthesis and characterization

Biological and biosensors research requires access to instruments that are able to characterize soft and highly hydrated materials at high resolution. The Center has access to high-resolution optical characterization equipment such as a state of the art Zeiss LSM 700 confocal microscope, multiple upright and inverted microscopes equipped with widefield fluorescence. The center also has several atomic force microscopes (AFMs) that are capable of imaging soft and hydrated samples with molecular resolution.

Confocal microscopy

  • Zeiss LSM 700 Confocal Microscope (Picture)

  • Nikon C1 Eclipse Confocal Microscope (SCIF)

  • Total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (Olympus IX 73)

Atomic Force Microscopy

  • In situ AFM (Keysight/Agilent 5500, and NT-MDT Integra) (Tao)  (Picture)

Biomolecule synthesis, purification, and characterization

  • PCR Thermocycler

  • Gel Imaging system (Picture)

5. Patterning Capability

AFM-based nanoscale patterning, contact printing as well as microlithography are available.