Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

The nanoEngineering Laboratory

The nanoEngineering Laboratory at CWRU enables a full range of synthesis and fabrication capabilities of nanostructures, nanocomposites and synthetic hydrogels as well as the characterization of these unique structures and materials. The facility currently houses wet lab space and associated equipment both outside and inside a clean room environment to accommodate high quality fabrication requirements.

Characterization tools include a cryostat system (Janis SHI-4-1HT) capable of spanning temperatures from 4K up to 450K to which the 3(omega) technique for measuring thermal conductivity, which uses a lock-in amplifier (Stanford Research Systems SRS850), is connected. A mirage technique laser-based set-up used for non-contact thermal diffusivity measurements is also available. Additionally, a robust axial heat flow meter has also been built to enable thermal conductivity characterization of aeroclays.

A four-point microprobe system (Jandel) is used for measuring electrical properties of solids; an electrical conductivity meter (Omega CDH-80MS) is available for measurements on liquids or hydrogels. Additionally, various customized set-ups exist to enable accurate Seebeck coefficient measurements on a variety of samples. Specialized equipment for the sensitive electrochemistry related experiments on shark and artificial gels is also housed in the facility. These systems require sensitive nanovoltmeter and current generation equipment (Keithley), also provided in the laboratory.

An atomic force microscope (Digital Instruments Dimension 3100 Series and Nanoscope IV controller) is also available with specialized thermal and electrical probe tips for investigation of local transport properties while simultaneously measuring topographic and/or mechanical characteristics. A nano-indenter (Hysitron, Inc.) can be used to measure mechanical properties, and this tool interfaces with the atomic force microscope for accurate control. We have also developed a nanoscale mechanical/thermal/electrical characterization device to be used inside a scanning electron microscope (SEM) to investigate the properties of individual nanostructures.

Currently, an SEM housed in the Center for Surface Analysis of Materials is used for this purpose, but our own SEM was granted through a major research instrumentation grant (NSF) and will be available later in 2006. The laboratory also houses a computer workstation used for molecular dynamics simulations.