Extensive Capabilities for Research, Development, and Materials Quality Control

The Nanomaterials Core Characterization Facility (NCC) is an open access, nationally ranked, collaborative materials analysis multi-user facility where researchers from various universities and industries have access to the capabilities of our state-of-the-art instrumentation and expert advice.

The NCC offers technologies that benefit multi-disciplinary industrial and scholarly research in a broad range of sciences including, but not limited to: regenerative medicine, biotechnology, biology, forensic science, chemistry, pharmaceuticals, materials science, aerospace, and microelectronics.

The NCC also provides a conduit to scientists and industry in a collaborative effort between the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences and the VCU School of Engineering.

What The NCC Can Do For You

Electron Microscopy

  • Electron microscopy (both SEM and TEM) has become a powerful tool for the characterization of the morphology of materials. It is used in nearly every materials oriented industry.
  • Imaging of bulk samples down to approximately 1.0 nm resolution.
  • Obtain 0.4 nm edge-to-edge resolution with transmission electron microscope (TEM).
  • Chemical mapping of elements, or crystallite regions using analytical features on the various microscopes.
  • Mechanical manipulation of nanometer sized samples with Kleindiek high precision system in situ SEM.
  • Focused ion milling and creating nanotopography (FIB).
  • Electron beam lithography to develop microelectronic devices

SEM and TEM Equipment

Photo- and Auger-Electron Spectroscopy

  • Electron Spectroscopy for Chemical Analysis (ESCA) is an extremely powerful tool for the characterization of surface chemical composition. It is used in nearly all industries interested in the surface chemistry of materials.
  • Determine not only the elemental composition, but also the chemical and electronic states of those elements.
  • Detect the chemical composition as thin as atomic monolayers from temperature 77 to 600K.
  • Manipulate the sample orientation, etch layers off the surface to do depth profiling, and even the impact of gas phase reactions.
  • Image element distribution with a high lateral resolution (90 nm) with Auger spectroscopy.
  • Measure work function with ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS)

ESCA Equipment

X-ray Diffraction Crystallography

  • This kind of analysis is critical in a wide range of industries such as environmental, food science, pharmaceuticals, quality control and failure analysis.
  • Phase composition and identification of unknown crystalline materials.
  • Identify the unknown materials as well as provide quantitative composition ratios in mixed phase samples through comparisons to reference patterns

XRD Equipment


The NCC provides two different forms of spectroscopy: x-ray fluorescence (XRF) and Raman spectroscopy. These instruments are extremely sensitive, providing chemical composition and chemical state information on a variety of samples ranging from polymers to inorganic materials.

Spectroscopy Equipment


The M-2000 ellipsometer is able to collect data across the entire 250– 1700 nm range with about 2 nm resolution in a fraction of a second. Combined with automated sample alignment, customizable computer controlled X-Y mapping, and focusing probes for small samples, users are able to determine the thickness of thin films and complex optical function in the ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared spectral ranges..

Elipsometry Equipment

Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy

  • One of the main technique used in life sciences.
  • CLSM is employed to optically slice semitransparent samples.
  • Can measure roughness of surface.
  • Commonly used for the specimens stained with fluorophores, which highlights components of the observed cells

Confocal Laser Scanning Microscope

Atomic-Force Microscopy (AFM)

  • Surface imaging with atomic-level resolution in Z-dimension, and several nanometers in X-Y dimension.
  • X-Y nanomapping of mechanical, electrical, and magnetic properties.
  • Can be also used for wet biological samples,

Atomic Force Instruments


Other capabilities in the NCC lab include surface wettability measuring by using contact angle, as well as the capability to measure heat capacity, magnetic and electrical properties as a function of temperature and magnetic field.

If you don't see what you need, contact us. We help make connections for the capabilities you may need.