Micro- and Nano-Characterization

The objective of this module is to operate and develop cutting edge characterization tools and techniques for characterization at the micro-/nanometer scale while maintaining high-standard micro/ nanoscale analytical measurement equipment open to internal and external measurement services. Empa operates a huge park of high-level standard analytical instrumentation for micro- and nanoscale analysis, which are carried out by renowned experts. In parallel, instrumentation and method development for top notch analytical characterization at nanometer scale is pursued at several Empa labs in collaboration with our partners from industry. Expert knowledge is also widely available for consulting services or through collaborative project agreements.

3D NanoChemiscope: Combination of a Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (ToF-SIMS) and Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). This instrument has the unique ability to simultaneously determine the topography, the chemical composition and mechanical properties of nanoscale surface structures.
Instrumentation and competencies of Empa can be roughly classified into the following categories:
  • Bulk techniques: Typical instrumentation operated at Empa comprises X-ray tomography, FEB/FIB tomography, NMR, TEM (STEM, DF, BF, EELS, EDX). Micro- and nanomechanical probing (indentation, scratching, bending, tensile) as well as magnetic and electrical characterization can be performed at specific temperatures. Empa also operates a PPMS. Atom and plasma spectrometry techniques (GFAAS, ICP-OES, ICP-MS) enable chemical characterization down to ng levels.
  • Surface techniques: Typical instrumentation operated at Empa comprises ToF-SIMS (in combination with SEM and AFM), XPS, AES, LEED (in combination with STM), RAMAN (including SERS and TERS), SPM (including STM/STS, AFM, SFM, SAFM), Nano-XAS, RAIRS, LA-ICPMS, SEM (EBSD, EDX, GIS).
  • Depth profiling techniques: Many of the surface techniques mentioned above are combined with depth profiling. Typical instrumentation operated at Empa comprises GDOES, GDMS, XPS, AES, ToF-SIMS and Microtomy.
  • Particle techniques: Most high resolution imaging techniques (TEM, X-ray nanotomography, AFM, Nano-XAS and ToF-SIMS) can be used to measure particle sizes and chemical composition. Several techniques are available for size fractioned and chemical analyses of nanoparticles in aerosols (SMPS, FMPS, NSAM, CPC, APS, ELPI combined with subsequent bulk analysis) and liquids/suspension (sequential centrifugation or filtration with subsequent bulk analysis, FFF-ICP-MS). The agglomeration behavior of nanoparticle aerosols can be studied in a novel wind channel.
  • Computational materials characterization: Simulations allow us to connect experimental observations with the physical and chemical properties of realistic system models at the atomic scale. Novel materials can thus be designed and analyzed “in silico” for their properties, which facilitates the design of future experiments.