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SNSF: Soft & Hybrid Materials Facility (SMF)


SMF is dedicated to fundamental research on interfaces found in systems containing polymers and low molecular weight amphiphiles. The facilitiy is located within the Shriram Building.

Instrument Location
Contact Angle Goniometer: Rame-Hart 290 Shriram 099
DLS: Brookhaven Instrument Nanobrook Omni Shriram 099
DMA: TA Instrument Q800 Shriram 099
DSC: TA Instrument Q2000 Shriram 099
Ellipsometer: Horiba UVISEL Shriram 099
HT-GPC: Tosho High-temperature EcoSEC Shriram 099
HT-TGA/DSC: TA Instrument SDT 650 Shriram 099
LB Trough: Biolin Scientific KSV 5000 Shriram 099
Mechanical Testing, Instron 5565 Shriram 099
Oxygen Plasma Cleaner: Diener Pico Shriram 099
Particle Analysis: Quantachrome Autoflow BET+ Shriram 099
Particle Analysis: Quantachrome Autosorb iQ3 Shriram 099
Particle Analysis: Quantachrome Poremaster 33 Shriram 099
Polarized LM: Nikon LV100 Shriram 099
Profilometer: Bruker Dektak XT-A Shriram 099
QCM: Biolin Q-Sense Quartz Crystal Microbalance Shriram 099
Rheometer: TA Instrument ARES-G2 Shriram 099
Scanning Kelvin Probe: SKP5050 Shriram 099
Spectroscopy: Agilent Cary 6000i UV/Vis/NIR Shriram 099
Spectroscopy: Horiba FluoroLog Fluorimeter Shriram 099
Spectroscopy: Horiba XploRA+ Confocal Raman Shriram 099
Spectroscopy: Nicolet iS50 FT/IR Spectrometer Shriram 099
SPM: Park NX-10 Shriram 099
SPR: GE Biacore X100 Surface Plasmon Resonance Shriram 099
TGA: TA Instrument Q500 Shriram 099
MALS: Wyatt Dawn Heleos Shriram 099

Contact Information

Jeffrey Tok, Ph.D.
Office: Shriram 099A
(650) 498-3498 (office) - email strongly preferred!

Getting Started

In order to become a qualified user on the tool, you need to follow each of these steps in the order as listed here:

Equipment Training

  • before requesting training, make sure that you have completed all steps as outlined in the Getting Startedsection
  • Click to sign up training on specific tools: Training Calendar and Superusers
    • Note that the above links contain all relevant equipment training procedures and accessories information

Equipment Descriptions

Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC: TA Instrument Q2000) - Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) is a thermoanalytical technique in which the difference in the amount of heat required to increase the temperature of a sample and reference is measured as a function of temperature. Both the sample and reference are maintained at nearly the same temperature throughout the experiment. Generally, the temperature program for a DSC analysis is designed such that the sample holder temperature increases linearly as a function of time. The reference sample should have a well-defined heat capacity over the range of temperatures to be scanned. Differential scanning calorimetry can be used to measure a number of characteristic properties of a sample. Using this technique, it is possible to observe fusion and crystallization events as well as glass transition temperatures (Tg). DSC can also be used to study oxidation, as well as other chemical reactions.


Scanning Kelvin Probe: SKP5050 - KP Technology Model 5050

  • nondestructive method to determine the relative work function difference between the probe and the sample
  • high-resolution 3-axis stages, quick 50x50mm scans.
  • high performance faraday and light enclosure to shield unwanted electromagnetic interference


Dynamic mechanical analysis: DMA: TA Instrument Q800 - TA Instrument Q800 DMA, with following accessories:

  • Gas cooling accessory
  • Fiber/film tension kit


TGA: TA Instrument Q500 - Thermal gravimetric analysis. TA Instrument Q500 TGA with following accessories:

  • EGA Furnace


HT-TGA/DSC: TA Instrument SDT 650

This instrument capable of performing both differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) at the same time. The SDT measures the heat flow and weight changes associated with transitions and reactions in materials over the temperature range ambient to 1500°C. The information provided differentiates endothermic and exothermic events which have no associated weight change (e.g., melting and crystallization) from those which involve a weight change (e.g., degradation).


Gas sorption: Quantachrome Autosorb iQ3 - Surface area & Porosity analyzer

Quantachrome Autosorb iQ Micropore:

  • Fully automated gas sorption/analyzer for surface area characterization, pore volume and pore size distribution.
  • High-vacuum system and additional low pressure transducers (1000 torr transducer and rotary pump) for high-quality, detailed micropore studies


Quantachrome Autoflow BET+

This fully automated dynamic flow system designed to enable an extremely rapid evaluation of the surface areas of solid samples. Single-point or multi-point determination of surface areas using different standard methods (such as BET and STSA) is easily carried out without the need for measuring system void volumes or recalibrating signal responses.


Quantachrome Poremaster 33

PoreMaster 33 offers automatic mercury intrusion for automated pore size analysis. It is able to achieve a maximum pressure of 33,000 psia for pore size measurements in the range from >1100 micron to 0.0064 micron pore diameter. Two low pressure stations plus one high pressure station.


HT-GPC: Tosho High-temperature EcoSEC - High Temperature (HT)-Gel permeation chromatography, connected to Multi-Angle static Light Scattering. Our system is a Tosoh EcoSEC HT-GPC with RI detector and features

  • Ambient to 220 C, complete package with computer and relevant software
  • Heated transfer line to work with external Multi angle light scattering instrument, also equipped with Three HT-GPC columns


Rheometer: TA Instrument ARES-G2 - High Resolution Rheometer, with following accessories:

  • Smart Swap Advanced Peltier System (APS) Jacket and Environmental Control Box, Peltier Circulator Thermo Cube and miscellaneous plates.
  • Double Wall Ring Interfacial (DWR) Rheology System
  • Universal Testing Platform (Sentmanat Extention)
  • Dielectric Thermal Analysis
  • Force Convection Oven with Camera, Air Dryer, Melt Rheology Geometry Bundle, LN2 Controller


DLS: Brookhaven Instrument Nanobrook Omni - Dynamic Light Scattering (also known as Photon Correlation Spectroscopy or Quasi-Elastic Light Scattering) is a technique to determine the size distribution profile of small particles in suspension or polymers in solution. It can also be used to probe the behavior of complex fluids such as concentrated polymer solutions. The NanoBrook Omni particle size and zeta potential analyzer enables fast, routine, sub-micron measurements of size and zeta potential. The instrument also includes Phase Analysis Light Scattering (PALS) measurements for samples with low mobilities.



MALS: Wyatt Dawn Heleos - Features:

  • 120mW solid-state laser operating at 658 nm
  • 8 angles, on-board digital signal processing hardware for up to four external devices such as RI and/or UV detectors.
  • Equipped with peltier that runs from 10oC to 210oC, used only to complement HT-GPC, i.e. not stand-alone.


Spectroscopy: Agilent Cary 6000i UV/Vis/NIR - UV/Visible/NIR Spectrophotometer (with Diffuse Reflectance, UMA and Praying Mantis). Cary 6000i Spectrophotometer, with following properties and accessories

  • 175-1800 nm range and it uses unqiue InGaAs detection for improved linearity
  • Universal Measurement Accessory: multi-angle, absolute reflection (R), transmission (T), absorptance (A) and scattering measurements, which are perfect for materials research, i.e. optics, thin films/coatings, solar and glass
  • Diffuse Reflectance Accessory: reflectance, transmittance, or absorptance measurements of diffuse, specular, or mixed samples.
  • Praying Mantis Accessory: has several advantages over traditional integrating spheres; Ideal for very small samples (3 mm in diameter), can be used for samples that must be kept horizontal, such as powders, liquids or pastes


Spectroscopy: Horiba FluoroLog Fluorimeter - Our Horiba FluoroLog-3 can measure Steady State and Lifetime. Features:

  • detect 50-femtomolar fluorescein
  • Unique, modular system which allows the researcher to interchange a versatile range of accessories to correspond perfectly with the characteristics of a given sample


Spectroscopy: Horiba XploRA+ Confocal Raman - MicroRaman Optical Microscope featuring

  • fully automated confocal raman microscope with 10X and 100X objectives
  • 532nm, 638nm, 785 nm laser kit
  • X, Y & Z mapping options
  • Polarization and Macro adaption kits
  • Raman ready CCD detector


Spectroscopy: Nicolet iS50 FT/IR Spectrometer - FT-IR Spectrometer (with Microscope, Raman, NIR and TGA modules)

Nicolet iS50, with following accessories:

  • Automated beam splitter for MID-NIR-FIR
  • Gas Diffuse Reflectance Accessory (DRA)
  • Attenuated Total Reflectance (ATR)
  • Raman module
  • FTIR microscope


SPR: GE Biacore X100 Surface Plasmon Resonance

  • Provides real-time insights into protein function & biological mechanisms
  • Enables Kinetics, affinity, specificity and concentration analysis in one system
  • Allows the study of a wide range of molecules in different sample environments


Polarized LM: Nikon LV100 - Polarized Microscope with heating stage. Nikon’s LV100 POL microscope with following accessories:

  • EPI Illuminator with bright and darkfield
    5X, 10X, 20X, 50X, 100X objectives
  • Color camera head
  • The Instec HCS 3heating stage has a very precise temperature controller with a range of -190 to 400 °C.


Park NX-10 AFM - This NX-10 AFM microscope features an improved liquid cell for fluid imaging and force-distance measurements. It is equipped with a heating stage for work with biological samples. Gas and liquid flow are also possible with the cell and the components are available. In addition to that, NX-10 is equipped with a high speed high accuracy NI-DAQ module for reading and even sending driving signals to the AFM for the most advanced users. This can be very useful for developmental work. See here for more info.


Ellipsometer: Horiba UVISEL - Ellipsometry is a versatile and powerful optical technique for the investigation of the dielectric properties (complex refractive index or dielectric function) of thin films. It has applications in many different fields, from semiconductor physics to microelectronics and biology, from basic research to industrial applications. Ellipsometry is a very sensitive measurement technique and provides unequalled capabilities for thin film metrology. As an optical technique, spectroscopic ellipsometry is non-destructive and contactless. Upon the analysis of the change of polarization of light, which is reflected off a sample, ellipsometry can yield information about layers that are thinner than the wavelength of the probing light itself, even down to a single atomic layer. Ellipsometry can probe the complex refractive index or dielectric function tensor, which gives access to fundamental physical parameters and is related to a variety of sample properties, including morphology, crystal quality, chemical composition, or electrical conductivity. It is commonly used to characterize film thickness for single layers or complex multilayer stacks ranging from a few angstroms or tenths of a nanometer to several micrometers with an excellent accuracy. Our system features:

  • 450-1000 nm
  • sub 3 nm spectral resolution
  • Halogen & blue LED


Contact Angle Goniometer: Rame-Hart 290 -Contact angle is often used to measure cleanliness, roughness, absorption, surface heterogeneity, among other properties. The contact angle is the angle formed when a drop of liquid meets a solid surface. It is used to characterize the wetting properties of surfaces, by using the Young equation. The Model 290 features the standard 3-axis stage, an Automated Tilting Base and Automated Dispensing System.


Profilometer: Bruker Dektak XT - The Bruker DektakXT surface profiler provides repeatable, accurate measurements on varied surfaces, from traditional 2D roughness surface characterization and step height measurements to advanced 3D mapping and film stress analyses. It also features a revolutionary design that enables 4 angstrom repeatability.


Mechanical Testing: Instron 5565 - Tension testers, or pull testers, are used to determine the tensile strength of various materials from metals to plastics. The Instron tensile testing system utilizes the tension test to perform mechanical test on material. Tensile tests are simple, relatively inexpensive, and fully standardized. By pulling on something, one can very quickly determine how the material will react to forces being applied in tension. As the material is being pulled, one will find its strength along with how much it will elongate. Standard tensile forces can be applied with an electromechanical tensile tester while higher tension loads require a static hydraulic tensile system.


LB Trough: Biolin Scientific NIMA KN2002 - Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) trough is an apparatus that is used to compress monolayers of molecules on the surface of a given subphase (usually water) and measures surface phenomena due to this compression. It can also be used to deposit single or multiple monolayers on a solid substrate. The LB trough's general objective is to study the properties of monolayers of amphiphilic molecules. An amphiphilic molecule is one that contains both a hydrophobic and hydrophilic domain (e.g. soaps and detergents). The LB trough allows investigators to prepare a monolayer of amphiphilic molecules on the surface of a liquid, and then compress or expand these molecules on the surface, thereby modifying the molecular density, or area per molecule. This is accomplished by placing a subphase (usually water) in a trough, spreading a given amphiphile over the surface, and then compressing the surface with barriers (see illustration). The monolayer's effect on the surface pressure of the liquid is measured through use of a Wilhelmy plate, electronic wire probes, or other types of detectors. An LB film can then be transferred to a solid substrate by dipping the substrate through the monolayer.


Oxygen Plasma Cleaner: Diener Pico - Plasma cleaning involves the removal of impurities and contaminants from surfaces through the use of an energetic plasma created from gaseous species. Gases such as argon and oxygen, as well as mixtures such as air and hydrogen/nitrogen are used. In a plasma, gas atoms are excited to higher energy states and ionized. As the atoms and molecules 'relax' to their normal, lower energy states they release a photon of light, this results in the characteristic "glow" or light associated with plasma. Different gases give different colors. For example, oxygen plasma emits a light blue color. A plasma's activated species include atoms, molecules, ions, electrons, free radicals, metastables, and photons in the short wave ultraviolet (vacuum UV, or VUV for short) range. This 'soup', which incidentally is around room temperature, then interacts with any surface placed in the plasma. If the gas used is oxygen, the plasma is an effective, economical, environmentally safe method for critical cleaning. The VUV energy is very effective in the breaking of most organic bonds (i.e., C-H, C-C, C=C, C-O, and C-N) of surface contaminants. This helps to break apart high molecular weight contaminants. A second cleaning action is carried out by the oxygen species created in the plasma (O2+, O2-, O3, O, O+, O-, ionised ozone, metastably-excited oxygen, and free electrons). These species react with organic contaminants to form H2O, CO, CO2, and lower molecular weight hydrocarbons. These compounds have relatively high vapour pressures and are evacuated from the chamber during processing. The resulting surface is ultra-clean.

QCM: Biolin Q-Sense Quartz Crystal Microbalance - Quartz Crystal MicroBalance Biolin Omega Auto featuring

  • Automated and fully integrated turn-key system for rapid start-up and low hands-on time
  • Real-time and label-free technology for convenient measurement


Impedance Analyser Agilent 4294A - Almost every liquid and solid is able to pass current when a voltage is applied to it. If a variable (ac) voltage is applied to the material, the ratio of voltage to current is known as the impedance. The measured impedance varies with the frequency of the applied voltage in a way that is related to the properties of the liquid or solid. Electric impedance is a well-established technique for studying the electrical properties of polymer materials because their dielectric properties and relaxation events within polymers are nicely matched by accessible frequencies from the impedance analyzer.


Research Examples

Sizing of the QD nanoparticles was achieved by using the SMF Brookhaven 90 plus Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) nanosizer. Source: Y. Xing, et al., Biochem. & Biophys. Res. Com. 372 (2008)


Thermal transitions of various extruded polymeric films were measured using the SMF differential scanning calorimeter (DSC). Source: Q. Liao, et al., Polymeric S&E (2012) DIO:10.1002/pen.23087


Monolayer Self-Assembly : The SMF Langmuir–Blodgett trough was used to fabricate monolayers of nanospheres on 4 inch quartz wafers. Source: Hsu, et al. Adv. Energy Mater.  (2012)