Overview

Nan Yao, Director of PRISM Imaging and Analysis Center.

The Imaging and Analysis Center (IAC) implements high-end, state-of-the-art instrumentation for imaging and analysis to stimulate materials research and education at Princeton. Located in Bowen Hall, the home of the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM), 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]. The IAC supports many of PRISM's activities such as the Mid-InfraRed Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE), Princeton Physical Sciences-Oncology Center (PPS-OC), Combustion Energy Frontier Research Center (CEFRC). With additional support from 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 imaging and analysis facilities in the nation.

The Center contains a suite of advanced electron microscopes, including transmission (Philips CM200 FEGTEM, CM100 TEM and Zeiss 912TEM) and scanning (Philips XL30 FEG-SEM) electron microscopes. These instruments provide high-resolution, energy-filtering and low-temperature TEM, nano-diffraction EM, low-voltage SEM and in-situ mechanical testing capabilities. Also available are microchemical and microstructural analysis capabilities (EDS, PEELS, WDS), electron probe (Cameca SX 50 electron microprobe), scanning probe microscopes (three Bruker AFMs), surface and thin film analysis (Horiba Raman Spectrometer and Woollam M-2000 Ellipsometer), 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 FEI Strata DB-235 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. We have recently acquired a high-resolution X-ray diffractometer (a Bruker D8 Discover, with monochromator, high-precision two-circle goniometer, 2D detector, and accessories for reflectometry, grazing incidence diffraction and texture measurements, and microdiffraction; the system is easily reconfigured for these different applications). We have added another major instrument, an Environmental FEG-SEM, owing to a NSF-MRI award (PI: Prof. George Scherer). This new microscope provides unique capability of studying wet or insulating materials in water vapor or other gasses environment at near atmospheric pressures. Cement, polymers, biological cells, soil bacteria, wood, and liquid suspensions can be analyzed at the nanoscale 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 from 13 departments and centers on campus [Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chemistry, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Electrical Engineering, Geosciences, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Molecular Biology, Physics, Plasma Physics Labs (PPPL), Princeton Art Museum, School of Architecture, and Firestone Library]. 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 enjoyed 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 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 2-4 weeks, 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 3000 student enrollments, including hundreds of researchers from industry, including BMS, Colgate-Palmolive, DuPont, ExxonMobil, FMC, Henkel, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Revlon, SRI, etc.