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Materials Synthesis and Characterization

The BIMR has comprehensive facilities for the synthesis of metallic, ceramic and composite materials. As the initial stage in many materials projects is the synthesis and characterization of a sample, this facility is essential to many of our existing research programs and complements the crystal growth facility. (Crystal growths begin with well-characterized polycrystalline samples). There are several furnaces, including resistance heated and r.f. induction furnaces, which can operate with controlled atmospheres (high vacuum, oxidizing, reducing and buffered gas mixtures) at temperatures up to 2000°C. A controlled atmosphere welding apparatus permits the fabrication of refractory metal (Mo, Ta, Nb) crucibles. Precision diamond saws and polishing equipment complement the crystal growth enterprise. While some of the items in this assembly might be found in individual laboratories in other universities, it is the provision of such a variety of facilities with unfettered access and expert technical support, which makes this Materials Synthesis facility unique. This facility regularly receives requests for materials synthesis from off-campus researchers such as T.K. Sham (Western), W.J.L. Buyers (NRC) and K.J. McClelland (LANL).

Complementing the synthesis activities is a thermal analysis laboratory that operates high temperature (1575°C), simultaneous DTA/DSC/TGA (Netzsch STA 409) and low temperature (-125°C to 723°C) DSC (TA Instruments DCS 2910). These can be used with a variety of atmospheres (oxidizing, reducing, buffered) to investigate phase changes, transition temperatures, kinetics of gas-solid reactions, decomposition temperatures, polymer glass transition temperatures, etc.

Two laser-ablative deposition systems are available for the deposition of oxide and related materials. This approach to film deposition has the capacity to rapidly develop high quality films in new materials systems. Researchers at McMaster, Toronto, Alberta, Simon Fraser, SUNY and University of Maryland are currently using the resulting epitaxial films.

Graduate students, PDF’s and visiting researchers use the Materials Synthesis facility extensively. The majority of the supervision is provided by Jim Garrett and the other crystal growers.

Facility Coordinator

Professional & Technical Staff