Skip to:

MRFN Member Login
Program Application

Materials Research Laboratory Central Research Facilities

Since 1962, the Materials Research Laboratory (MRL) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides a large array of instrumentation for the fabrication, processing and characterization of materials operating as shared-instrumentation under the MRL Central Research Facilities. Instrument access, training and research support is provided to all research, academic and industrial institutions in the country in a 24/7/365 open-access mode. The facilities are managed under the philosophy that scientific research is most effectively advanced through a dynamic, interdisciplinary environment with shared instrumentation supported by highly skilled professionals.


  1. Biological sample preparation and analysis services

    Our lab offers:

    • Consultations to discuss the specific needs of your project.
    • In-house negative staining for virus, bacteria, protein, polymers, nanoparticles etc. This includes our own custom made formvar grids as well as our grids covered only in carbon, using our own stains. Bring your sample to an appointment, and let us do the rest for you while you watch.
    • SEM preparation for biological materials: We will develop custom-made preparation procedures to accommodate your specific type of sample and research project.
  2. Center for Excellence in Soft Materials
  3. Electron Microscopy Core

    The electron microscopy suite at MRL boasts a wide range of techniques, from Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and dual-beam Focused Ion Beam (FIB), to Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM). A variety of sample preparation tools for electron microscopy is also available.

  4. Laser and Optical Spectroscopy

    The MRL Laser and Spectroscopy suite is a user-oriented, user-friendly facility that provides the modern photon-based analytical capabilities essential to today’s materials science. These services emphasize the study of optical properties of materials and interfaces, and the relation to microstructural and microchemical composition, phase transitions, crystalline, electronic, and defect structure of materials, surfaces, and interfaces.

  5. Micro/Nano Fabrication and Cleanroom

    The MRL Micro/Nanofabrication Facility is a multidisciplinary, user-supported facility providing equipment and resources for thin film deposition and the fabrication of patterned micro-and nano-sized structures on flexible and other multi-layer electronic devices.The facility operates a 1,400 square foot, class-100 cleanroom with instrumentation for wet/chemical etching, spin coating, mask aligners, and general optical and 3D printing lithography.

  6. Scanning probe microscopy

    The scanning probe suite at MRL comprises a variety of instruments with complementary capabilities that enable the measurement of sample topography down to atomic resolution, local electromagnetic properties, and nanomechanical properties.

  7. Surface Analysis

    MRL’s surface analysis suite provides a variety of instrumentation for surface chemical analysis, ranging from accelerator-based techniques to various spectroscopy, spectrometry, and profilometry tools.

  8. X-ray analysis

    MRL’s X-Ray analysis suite provides instrumentation for analysis of crystalline structure, orientation and texture, stress, chemical composition, grain and particle size distribution applied to various materials system in powder, thin film on substrate, bulk and liquid form. Dedicated instruments are available for powder, thin film, glancing incidence, texture, stress, reciprocal lattice mapping, fluorescence and reflectometry analysis. The lab also includes a dedicated SAXS/WAXS system for small and wide angles x-ray scattering.