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Facilities

The shared facilities for the MRSEC and their directors are the following:

Central Facility for Electron Microscopy                       David Paine
Central Facility for X-Ray Diffraction                             Brian Sheldon
Central Facility for Microelectronics                              Rashid Zia
Atomic Force Microscope Facility (AFM)                      Jay Tang
Computational Mechanics Research Facility            James Scheuerman
Mechanical Testing                                                         Christopher Bull
Molecular Beam Epitaxy Laboratory                             Rod Beresford

These facilities are integral to the core research activities across faculty and programs at Brown, and are used by external (non-Brown) users.  The facilities vary widely in the types of equipment, the usage base and breadth, the need for maintenance, the need for technical staff support, the material supplies, and the actual operating costs.  Thus, each facility operates on a model designed for that facility, with the major larger-user-base facilities operating as cost-centers and the smaller facilities operating independently.  The demonstrated ability of these facilities to maintain financial stability, to maintain equipment, and to expand as needed, supports the diversity of management approaches.  Here, major current capabilities are listed and plans for new facilities and equipment are presented.  Not all of the new equipment will be funded solely from the MRSEC equipment fund, however; some upgrades will await the receipt of other funds that can leverage the MRSEC contributions.

AFM Facility
This facility consists of a Nanoscope III operating station, a Dimension 3100 scanning probe microscope on an air lifted isolation table, and a Multimode scanning probe microscope, all of which are from Digital Instruments/VEECO.  This is a shared facility funded by an NSF Major Research Instrumentation award (PI: Tang). It is used extensively for studies of nanoscale materials and devices, and in particular biological materials.

Additional functionalities have been added to an existing AFM facility previously funded by the NSF major instrumentation grant. The additional instruments include a Bioscope BIO2-N Precision stage, an inverted fluorescence microscope with a TIRF lens, and an ORCA-285 regular Fluorescence Camera. These added components allow for simultaneous imaging of lives cells by AFM and fluorescence microscopy, as well as direct probe of cell mechanics and cell adhesion. The facility will benefit all participants of the Seed, or other investigators of similar interest. Only properly trained persons are allowed to use the facility. All new users must be trained by the facility manager (currently Dr. Guanglai Li).  A cost recovery mechanism has not been established.

Electron Microscopy Facility
The electron microscope facility continues to serve the research and teaching needs of faculty and graduate students in the physical sciences.  It operates as a cost center with users from inside the university as well as access to local industry and outside universities. The facility is administered by IMNI with a faculty director (Prof. David Paine), and a full time dedicated research engineer (Anthony McCormick) who maintains the equipment and provides instruction or user assistance on an as-needed basis.  The laboratory instrumentation consists of equipment which provides five primary functions: (i) Two transmission electron microscopes (JEM 2010-HREM tool and an FEI CM20-analytical tool) for chemical, structural, and crystallographic microstructure analysis, (ii) Scanning Electron microscopes (LEO 1530-vp and JEM 845) for microstructural studies of surface relief and morphology and includes crystallographic (EBSD) and chemical (EDS) mapping, (iii) a new FEI Helios Dual Beam FIB with an Omniprobe nanomanipulator and autoTEM sample preparation, Nabbity extended lithography package, 3-D EBSD, and accessories for high resolution lithography, (iv)  Auger/ESCA system VG ESCA Lab II for surface composition, depth profile, and XPS analysis and, (v) full sample preparation facilities including optical microscopes, ion mills, and plasma deposition tools. In addition, optical and atomic force microscopes are available in the facility.   Funding has been secured for the acquisition of a 200 kV Field Emitter TEM which should be ready for installation by June 2010.

Microelectronics Facility
This facility, housed in a class-100/1000 cleanroom, supports a reasonably complete range of microelectronic processing capabilities. It is run on a user-fee basis, with access to all Brown faculty and outside users, with a couple of local high-tech start-up companies typically maintaining access privileges (requiring insurance and appropriate safety training) with established user fees. In 2009-2010, the facility supported over 100 users from 25 research groups. The facility has a full-time research engineer (Michael Jibitsky) to maintain and upgrade its equipment and train new users, and a faculty director (Rashid Zia).

Current capabilities include: optical lithography down to ~1 μm minimum feature size (Karl Suss 4" mask aligner); optical low-resolution lithography system from Oriel Instruments, capable of using transparency masks and handling large (up to 5") substrates; reactive ion etching in chlorine and fluorine chemistries (Trion and Plasmatherm tools); plasma-enhanced CVD of oxides and nitrides (Plasmatherm 790); ion-beam assisted deposition of dielectric films, including high-reflectivity multilayer dielectric mirrors (Oxford Instruments); wet processing; low-pressure CVD and thermal oxidation furnaces; electron-beam evaporation metallization (Temescal CV-14 and Lesker Lab 18); RF magnetron sputtering (Lab 18); rapid thermal annealing; surface profilometry and ellipsometry.

Computational Mechanics
This facility provides computational resources for mechanics research of Brown faculty and external collaborators.  It operates as a cost center administered by CAMR with a full-time director (Scheuerman). The major equipment includes a 58 node Opteron dual processor-dual core (232 processors) High Performance Computing (HPC) cluster, 2 Polyserve scalable fileserver, 2 Red Hat cluster suite routers, MSA1000 SAN with ~1 TB of user storage and an MSL5026 tape library.  To ensure optimal performance and utilization of all compute nodes, we have deployed Standard LSF (a job scheduler) and Fairshare (a job queuing algorithm) from the HP XC cluster software suite.  We have divided the HPC cluster into two partitions for serial and parallel processing to best utilize the additional memory needed for serial jobs.  We have implemented several layers of high availability solutions (hardware and software) to avoid any system downtime and loss of data.  Subsequent yearly upgrades to the facility are estimated at $50,000.
A new high-performance facility is being installed in conjunction with the recent University HPC facility built in collaboration with IBM.  The CMRF portion will more than double the capability of the existing facility, enabling far larger and longer computations to be performed locally at Brown. Details of this facility will be provided once up and running.

X-Ray Diffraction
The facility consists of two computer-controlled Siemens x-ray diffractometers.  One has a thin-film glancing angle attachment, high temperature capabilities in both air and vacuum (up to 2000ºC), and is equipped with a Laue camera.  The other is a high-resolution system used primarily for rocking curve measurements on epitaxial films and other monocrystalline specimens.  Director Sheldon is currently converting this facility to a University Cost Center, where users are charged on a per sample basis.  This facility is by researchers from Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Geology, and the Division of Biology and Medicine.

Molecular Beam Epitaxy
This innovative facility is based on a 3rd-generation Model 930 system design from EPI and custom-designed processing chambers connected in vacuo with the deposition system.  It is directed by Beresford.  The EPI 930, with cryo and ion pumping, full cryo-shrouds, and water-cooled thermal shields, achieves base pressures of about 8 × 10–11 torr and produces high-quality III-V arsenide and nitride layers.  The system includes a valved As cracker that permits precise mechanical control of the As2 or As4 flux and dual-filament Ga and In cells, whose "hot lip" design helps minimize defect densities in the films.  A 200-amu range quadrupole mass spectrometer, 10-kV RHEED gun and 1-µm narrow-band optical pyrometer are in-process diagnostic tools.  Upgrades include customized ECR and rf plasma nitrogen sources.  A novel multi-beam optical stress sensor (MOSS) mounts on the center viewport of the source flange and provides real-time measurements of the wafer curvature due to stress generated by heteroepitaxial growth.  The substrates can be loaded in stress-free mounts such that they are free to deform when mismatched epitaxial layers are grown.  The use of multiple parallel optical beams affords noise immunity such that a radius of curvature of 40 km can be detected, sufficient for detection of monolayer films.  An atomic hydrogen source enables low-temperature oxide desorption cleaning, which is critical for preparing engineered nanoscale surfaces for the pattern-driven growth of quantum structures.  The average cost of 1 day of operations is ~$120 (excluding any personnel or substrate costs), covering liquid nitrogen, source materials, miscellaneous lab supplies, and routine costs of maintenance/repair of the MBE components and system.

Mechanical Testing Facility
The Mechanical Testing Facility enables investigators to create novel materials and structures through crystal growth, hot pressing, vacuum casting, diffusion bonding, and cold iso-static pressing.  Once created, materials may be shaped by conventional machining, wire EDM, and specialty surfacing equipment.  The mechanical properties of the material may be characterized over a wide range of temperatures, atmospheres, loading rates, and testing regimes.  The facility is staffed by a senior research engineer and two senior technical assistants.