Overview

The PRISM Imaging and Analysis Center (IAC) implements high-end, state-of-the-art instrumentation for materials characterization to stimulate research and education at Princeton and beyond. Located in the new Andlinger building, the IAC is also an integral part of the Princeton Center for Complex Materials [Princeton's Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (PCCM), funded by the National Science Foundation]. With the continual support from Princeton University, as well as the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Office of Naval Research, the State of New Jersey, ExxonMobil, Johnson & Johnson, etc., the IAC has become the largest central facility at Princeton and one of the most advanced materials characterization centers in the nation.

The Center contains a suite of advanced electron microscopes, including world-leading transmission (Titan Themis 80-300 Cubed Double Cs-corrected S/TEM, Titan Krios G2 300 Cs-corrected cryo - TEM, Talos F200X S/TEM, and CM200 FEGTEM) and scanning (Verios 460 XHR SEM, Quanta 200 FEG Environmental-SEM, XL30 FEG-SEM) electron microscopes. These instruments provide sub-angstrom resolution, energy-filtering, cryo-bioimaging, tomography and high/low-temperature structural imaging, nano-diffraction, low-voltage SEM and in-situ dynamic testing capabilities. Also available are micro/nano elemental/chemical analysis capabilities (superX-EDS, fast EELS spectroscopy, WDS), scanning probe microscopes (Multimode, NanoMan and Dimension ICON3 AFMs), surface and thin film analysis (XPS, Raman, Ellipsometer, UV-VIS and FLS), thermal and other analysis (DSC, TGA-GC/MS, DMA, rheometer, optical microscope), computer simulation (molecular dynamics and image processing), and materials preparation (ion beam sputtering, plasma etching, cryo-ultramicrotome, multifunctional mechanical polisher and ion beam mill). The IAC is also equipped with a Helios G3 dual-beam focused ion beam (FIB/SEM) system that provides the unique capability to either add or subtract material at precisely defined locations with nanoscale resolution; and high-resolution X-ray diffractometers (D8 Discover and D8 Advance, and MiniFlex XRDs). IAC’s latest addition is the Versa 520 3D X-ray microscope, owing to a NSF-MRI award (PI: Prof. Craig Arnold). This microscope provides unique capability of studying 3D structures of any materials under various dynamic conditions; cement, polymers, biological cells, soil bacteria, wood, solar cells, batteries, and liquid suspensions can be analyzed at the micrometer scale without prior specimen preparation.

A central mission of the IAC is the education, research, and training of students at Princeton University. IAC also collaborates with researchers in industry and other academic institutes. Recent IAC users include over 250 students and researchers from 18 departments and centers on campus [Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chemistry, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Electrical Engineering, Energy and the Environment, Geosciences, History, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, Physics, Plasma Physics Labs (PPPL), Princeton Art Museum, PRISM, School of Architecture, and Firestone Library], as well as external industrial companies. The IAC supports ten regular courses on campus, four undergraduate and three graduate: CEE105, CBE347, CHM513/MSE513, ELE547A, FRS122, FRS187, MAE244, MSE302, MSE503 and MSE505. Many undergraduate students enjoy using various types of electron microscopes during class, as well as in their senior thesis research. The research experience gained in the IAC has helped students win a number of national awards, such as AFCEA National Grand Prize for Science, Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Fellowship, Barry M. Goldwater National Scholarship,

Fulbright Scholarship, Harvey Fellowship, LeRoy Apker Award, AFCEA National Grand Prize for Science, National Science Foundation Fellowship, National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowship, Materials Research Society Student Award, Microbeam Analysis Society Distinguished Student Award, and Microscopy Society of America Undergraduate Research Award. Many REU and RET members have also learned to use the instruments during their summer term stay at Princeton.

All IAC instruments are open to all qualified users, whether from Princeton or outside, for an hourly fee which varies according to the category of user (for example, industrial users are charged a rate not less than the value for a similar analysis by a commercial laboratory, while undergraduates are billed at only half the rate for graduate students and postdocs). The instruments and their capabilities, and the fee structure, are described on the IAC's public-access website (IAC), which also has a web-based reservation system (equipment reservations). Instruments are connected to a computerized, interlocked login system, to ensure that no unauthorized use occurs and that all authorized use is properly charged.

The IAC conducts a series of short courses (required for instrument access), which involve direct experimental demonstrations and hands-on instruction, ranging from basic sample preparation devices to high-end electron microscopes. These 2-6 hour courses are offered regularly and frequently, every month, and are open to Princeton students, as well as students from other universities and to industrial scientists, all free of charge. The goal of these training courses is to build the independent user base for the IAC. The IAC's short courses have drawn over 3500 student enrollments, including hundreds of researchers from industry, including BMS, Colgate-Palmolive, DuPont, ExxonMobil, FMC, Henkel, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Revlon, SRI, etc.

Thank you for visiting the IAC! Please do not hesitate to contact us if you believe your scientific project and education can benefit from our instrumentation and expertise.

Nan Yao
Director of PRISM Imaging and Analysis Center