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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 facility is located in the basement of 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
RT-GPC: Tosoh Room-temperature EcoSEC Shriram 099
HT-GPC: Tosoh 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
Rheometer: TA Instrument ARES-G2 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
TGA: TA Instrument Q500 Shriram 099

Contact Information

Jeffrey B.Tok, Ph.D.
Office: Shriram 099A
Office phone: (650) 498-3498 - I do not check my messages regularly. Thus communication via e-mail is strongly preferred!


Getting Started

To become a qualified and gain independent access to SMF equipment, you need to follow each of these steps in the order as listed here:

  • Complete the process to become a lab member of SNSF (i.e. set up a Badger account, etc.)
  • Send Dr. Jeffrey Tok an e-mail to request to be a SMF member. Detailed instructions will be then send to you as how to complete all the necessary steps.
  • It is important that you self-register yourself to the SMF Mailing List. Important operational messages are disseminated via the SMF mailing list.
  • Do register for each of the equipment mailing list that you intend to access. Updates on each equipment will be disseminated only through the equipment’s mailing list, e.g. maintenance, damages/down time etc. The link to sign-up for the equipment list is listed in each of the equipment’s website.
  • For undergraduate student (UGs) intending to work independently in SMF: UG can work alone only if their advisor consent and take full responsibility for your safety in SMF. Please have your advisor send me the following if your UG student need to have independent access to SMF

    "I am aware that    student's name    will have independent access to SMF and I will take full responsibility for this student's safety while working in SMF"
    Independent equipment access will be granted only after the above was sent to me.

  • Make sure to review our policy for Failure To Disable Tools After Usage. Remember that you are responsible for all your logged in duration. Request for adjustment, e.g. encountered equipment malfunction/failure, should be made before the end of each month, and final decision to make an adjustment is made by lab management.


Equipment Training and Reservations

  • Before requesting training, make sure that you have completed all steps as outlined in the Getting Started section
  • Due to COVID-19, all on-person SMF equipment training sessions are suspended till further notice. Instead, equipment training sessions are now conducted via online videos and the videos can be accessed via the equipment webpage.
  • Upon completion of online video training, contact Jeffrey Tok and equipment superuser for equipment independent access.
  • It is highly suggest that new user arrange with the superuser to have a live online zoom session when working on the equipment for the first time



  • It is important that we demonstrate that our shared facilities have aided in your research work. Thus, if your research at SMF generates data that appear in any type of publication, we hope that you will acknowledge SNSF/SMF in that publication. We recommend the following wording:

    “Part of this work was performed at the Stanford Nano Shared Facilities (SNSF), supported by the National Science Foundation under award ECCS-1542152.”


  • After publication, please fill in the DOI of your work in:


Equipment Descriptions

Differential Scanning Calorimetry 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.


Dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA): TA Instrument Q800

Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA) is a testing technique and related analytical instrument that measures the physical properties of solids and polymer melts, reports modulus and damping, and is programmable to measure force, stress, strain, frequency and temperature.

Our instrument is a TA Q800 DMA with gas cooling and fiber/film tension kit accessories.


Thermal Gravimetric Analysis (TGA): TA Instrument Q500

Thermogravimetric analysis is a method of thermal analysis in which the mass of a sample is measured over time as the temperature changes. This measurement provides information about physical phenomena, such as phase transitions, absorption and desorption; as well as chemical phenomena including thermal decomposition, and solid-gas reactions (e.g., oxidation or reduction).


High-temperature TGA/DSC: TA Instrument SDT650

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).


Surface area & Porosity analyzer (BET Gas sorption): Quantachrome Autosorb iQ3

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.


Room-temperature Gel Permeation Chromatography: Tosoh RT-GPC

Gel permeation chromatography (GPC) is a type of size exclusion chromatography (SEC) that separates analytes on the basis of size. The technique is often used for the analysis of polymers. Our Tosoh EcoSEC Ambient (Room Temp)-GPC with RI detector also be can be connected to our Wyatt’s Multi Angle Light Scattering (MALS) instrument for MW determination.


High-temperature Gel Permeation Chromatography: Tosoh EcoSEC HT-GPC

High Temperature (HT)-Gel permeation chromatography, can be connected to Wyatt’s Dawn Helos Multi-Angle static Light Scattering (MALS). 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

A rheometer is used to measure the way in which a liquid, suspension or slurry flows in response to applied forces. It is used for those fluids which cannot be defined by a single value of viscosity and therefore require more parameters to be set and measured than is the case for a viscometer. Our high-resolution Rheometer is equipped 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


Dynamic Light Scattering (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.



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

The 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 and Microscope

FT-IR Spectrometer (with Microscope, 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)
  • FTIR microscope


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

The 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.

Important: SMF’s oxygen plasma cleaner is NOT used for etching purposes. It’s only used for surface cleaning and surface chemical moieties modification only.



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)