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Surface Preparation and Characterization Laboratory

The Center's research demands state-of-the-art sample surface preparation. Our experiments rely on the ability to prepare very flat, polished surfaces, and to remove very thin sections with a high degree of parallelism. To meet these demands, we have assembled several kinds of polishing, lapping and precision milling instruments. For sectioning of soft metals we have installed a diamond-milling system (Reichert-Jung Polycut E with Ultramiller) capable of the precision removal of ~1 micon layers. A precision spindle polishing machine (Strasbaugh Polishmaster) can be used for mechanical polishing of metal and ceramic samples. We have also acquired a Logitec lapping and polishing system which provides much more rapid polishing action (in comparison with the Strausbaugh polisher) while still maintaining excellent parallelism. Using the Logitec system, we are able to polish samples flat to within ?? 0.5 microns over distances of 1 cm and are able to remove thicknesses as small as 5 microns. The facility also includes optical microscopes, an electropolisher for the finishing of metallic specimens, and an inductively coupled gauge head to determine sample parallelism and the thickness of removed layers. Facilities for the preparation of thin metal film specimens for OIM and TEM studies are maintained in Barmak's laboratory and available for MRSEC research.


  1. Diamond Milling System
  2. Logitec Lapping and Polishing System
  3. Spindle Polishing Machine
  4. ThermoMicroscopes M5

    The atomic force microscope in this facility can map large areas of the sample surface both by contact AFM and by optical microscopy. This is accomplished with the ThermoMicroscopes M5 microscope. The optical mapping capability is useful for establishing real space maps of grain boundary positions. By combining these images with OIM data, we are able to construct the high resolution orientation maps needed to measure the five parameter grain boundary distribution. The M5 also features programmable stage motion for automated data collection via AFM.