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Washington State University Applied Sciences Laboratory

Materials and Optical Characterization

The Materials and Optical Characterization Facility provides regional companies access to state-of-the-art equipment and technical expertise. The facility is well-equiped with a broad range of instrumentation for chemical analysis and phase identification, optical measurements, mechanical characterization, and environmental testing services.

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

An SEM uses an electron beam that is raster-scanned across the surface of a sample to provide high-resolution images. An FEI Nova NanoSEM 230 with nanometer-scale resolution is available to characterize the morphology and structure of materials. The low-vacuum mode allows for high-resolution imaging of non-conductive samples. In addition, an Oxford EDS system with an 80 mm2 drift detector is available to provide elemental identification.

  • Resolution: Can achieve nanometer resolution
  • Magnification:  x25 to x1,000,000
  • Energy Dispersive Spectrometry for chemical characterization
  • Imaging of non-conductive and magnetic samples
  • Sputter Coater to coat non-metallic samples to create conductivity for higher resolution

X-Ray Diffraction Facilities

  • PANalytical 4 kW system for Laue back reflection imaging of single crystals using a Micro Photonics Laue X-Ray imaging CCD
  • PANalytical 3 kW X’Pert Pro system for polycrystalline materials and powders

Optical Characterization

Optical materials are designed and synthesized for applications in national security including nuclear radiation sensors, nanometer-sized thermal sensors, and detection of IEDs under field conditions.

  • Spectrophotometry (T, R, S, A)
  • Photoelectric measurements (I-V curves)
  • Multiple optical microscopes with magnifications up to 1000x can be used for imaging of materials.
  • A Cary 5000 UV-VIS-NIR spectrometer with integrating sphere is available for absorption, reflectance, transmittance, and scattering measurements.
  • An Agilent 680 FT-IR with PM-IRRAS is available for transmittance and reflectance measurements and for determining the presence of specific chemical groups.
  • Various laser systems combined with spectrometers and gated and ungated PMT and CCD detectors, and optical spectrum analyzers are available for the characterization of materials at temperatures between 10 K and 473 K, using techniques such as fluorescence, excitation, fluorescence lifetime, Raman, multi-photon, interferometry, beam-deflection, etc.

Electrical and Electronic Characterization

Photoelectric measurements (I-V curves), in-situ electrical conductivity measurements, and polarization hysteresis measurements can be performed on a variety of materials. In addition, a d33-meter is available to determine piezoelectric constants and an impedance analyzer for dielectric and LCR measurements.

Mechanical Characterization

ASL has mechanical test equipment suitable for analyzing polymers, rubbers, and metals. Several instruments are available for standard ASTM tests or customized analysis:

  • Instron 3343 Test System capable of 1 kN tensile, compression, 3-point bending, or peel tests. The instrument is fitted with an environmental chamber for testing at elevated temperature.
  • Alpha Technologies MDR2000 for quantifying curing kinetics of elastomers.
  • Leco LCR-500 Rockwell type hardness tester

Environmental Characterization

ASL has capabilities for carrying out sample and product testing in controlled environments. These test chambers are extensively used to verify the long term performance of materials developed at ASL. These are also used to evaluate products supplied by outside customers. Environmental testing is carried out in research grade chambers to assure that test conditions are carefully controlled.

  • Accelerated aging at controlled humidity/temperature conditions
  • Salt fog testing chamber
  • Low temperature freezer
  • High temperature furnaces
  • Melting and softening temperature measurements and phase transitions detection through thermoanalytical techniques
  • Electrochemical test instrumentation for corrosion testing