The Center operates and supports twelve Shared Experimental Facilities that enable state-of-the-art characterization in the following areas: Molecular Weight Determination, X-Ray Scattering, Thermal Characterization, the Keck Nanostructures Laboratory, Optical Microscopy, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, the Keck Electron Microscopy Facility, Computing, Rheology, Spectroscopy, Surface Science, and Photovoltaics. These facilities are essential for conducting research in the Center. In 2009, the Keck Electron Microscope Facility acquired a state-of-the-art FEI Magellan field-emission scanning electron microscope (SEM), with low voltage, STEM, and analytical capability (EBSD and EDS). Funding for this instrument was obtained through an NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant. This new field emission SEM will replace an aging SEM in the current Electron Microscopy Facility, and greatly enhance capabilities for imaging, and analyzing the composition and crystal structure of nanostructured materials in IRGs 1 and 2, and the Seed programs. The Center also benefits from Shared Experimental Facilities of the CHM, which maintains clean room facilities, as well as facilities for the fabrication and characterization of nanostructured materials. The Center’s Facilities, coupled to those of the CHM, provide the major central-use instruments necessary to perform the Center research, and their stimulating environments enable interactions between students, visiting scientists, and faculty members.
The Center is integrated firmly into the Materials Research Facilities Network (MRFN), a cooperative effort among MRSECs. A 2009 National Research Council Report on MRSECs encouraged NSF to use MRSEC as the basis for a strategic national instrumentation network intended to increase America’s scientific competitiveness. The MRFN, which pre-dated the NRC report, established protocols by which a MRSEC researcher can access facilities at other MRSECs. In addition, the MRFN encourages access to these facilities by investigators at major research institutions and small colleges lacking needed characterization tools, or investigators from any of a variety of institutions who wish to utilize materials characterization equipment and techniques. The MRFN strongly promotes facility use by undergraduate and minority-serving institutions, and provides a tremendous opportunity for leveraging NSF-funded MRSEC.
All facilities are available within the Materials Research Facilities Network.