MSSI Building

 1-6   Transmission and Scanning Electron Microscopes

Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopes (SEMs and TEMs) are among the most powerful tools for examining materials down to the nanometer and atomic scale. Bernal Institute has an extensive suite of these instruments, including also a Focused Ion Beam SEM (FIB-SEM) to produce ultra-thin sections and membranes of materials, which is a requirement for TEM investigations. The TEM portfolio comprises one of the world’s most advanced instruments, a double aberration corrected, monochromated Titan Themis with analytical and spectroscopic facilities for energy dispersive X-ray and electron energy loss spectroscopy measurements, capable of <80 pm spatial and <0.1 eV energy resolution. The combination of the latter capabilities allows for optical and electronic properties to be studied with sub-nm resolution. Measurements can furthermore be carried out using in-situ holders for materials assessment in liquid and gaseous environments, under heating, biasing and cryogenic conditions. Combined with the capacities of an ultra-fast (in the sub-millisecond acquisition range) and ultra-sensitive K2 camera this enables behaviour and dynamics of materials to be studied in real time, all at the atomic level, opening up many new frontiers of scientific research which were not possible previously. The ability to visualise materials at this level in real environments is key  for the development, fabrication and application of advanced materials (e.g., in the nano-electronics, construction, pharma and bio-sectors), and will be beneficial for any project requiring nano-structural characterisation, in academia and industry alike.

  • Thermo Fisher Titan Themis
  • JEOL 2100
  • Preparation Lab
  • Thermo Fisher FIB
  • Hitachi SEM
  • JEOL Carry Scope JCM-5700

 7   Spectral analysis and Surface Characterisation Laboratory

  • Complementing our high-resolution microscopy, spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction laboratories, the spectral analysis and surface characterisation laboratory supports day-to-day activity across the Institute and wider University of Limerick research community.
  • Raman Spectrometer with motorised and heated sample stage for time, spatial and temperature mapping, Horiba LabRAM 1A.
  • Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectrometer with attenuated total reflectance (ATR) and FTIR Microscope attachments, Perkin Elmer Spectrum 100 spectrometer with Spotlight 200 microscope and uATR accessory.
  • Scattering Particle Size Distribution Analyser, Horiba LA-920.
  • Nitrogen gas sorption surface area and pore size analyzer, Quantachrome AUTOSORB-1.
  • Double-beam UV-Visible spectrometer with temperature controlled sample holder, Varian Cary 300 Bio.
  • Double-beam UV-Visible spectrometer, Perkin-Elmer Lambda 35.
  • Optical Microscope, Zeiss AXIO Imager.A1m.
  • Circular Dichroism spectrometer, Applied Photophysics Chirascan

As with all laboratory facilities throughout Bernal Institute, the spectral analysis and surface characterisation laboratory is also open to all Research Centres and projects housed within the Institute, researchers across UL, and to industrial and academic collaborators and visitors.

 8   Surface Science Laboratory

Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (TOF-SIMS) 

TOF-SIMS is a very sensitive surface analytical technique. It provides detailed elemental and molecular information about surfaces, thin layers, interfaces, and full three-dimensional analysis of the samples.  Tof-SIMS technique is used in different areas including semiconductors, polymers, paint, coatings, glass ceramic, metals biomaterials, and pharmaceuticals.  The TOF.SIMS 5 is the high-end TOF-SIMS instrument developed over the last 20 years. Its design guarantees optimum performance in all fields of SIMS applications.

X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) 

XPS provides information about the elemental and chemical composition of a surface.   It can determine the surface concentration of elements present, chemical states, the molecular environment and/or oxidation state of metals.  The high performance AXIS 165 X-ray photoelectron spectrometer can identify all elements (except H and He) present in the outer 10 nm of a sample down to 0.1 percent.  Imaging XPS is a new technique that provides spatially-resolved chemical maps of a surface with a resolution down to 3 µm.

 9   Education and Public Engagement

Bernal Institute has a dedicated space for public engagement and education providing a bridge between research with and for society. We strategically support the Bernal community to become ambassadors and advocates of STEM(science, technology, engineering and mathematics)by incorporating societal perspectives into all our research activities. We infuse a culture of STEM education to all education and public engagement activities; so as to foster active participation in research, transparency, diversity, inclusiveness and flexibility.

 10   Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM) Laboratory

Ntegra Spectra, an integrated AFM-TERS-SNOM-Raman instrument. It is capable of performing multimodal surface characterisation using probe-based techniques including >30 modes of scanning probe microscopy (SPM), scanning near-field optical microscopy (SNOM) as well as tip enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS). It can also be used for confocal Raman, fluorescence microscopy as well as confocal laser scanning microscopy.

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) which comes under Scanning probe microscopy (SPM) techniques is a very-high resolution imaging technique which is based on the interaction between a sharp probe and a surface. It is capable of measuring nano-scale surface features and investigating nano-scale surface properties using the sharpened probe. Agilent 5500 AFM at Bernal Institute is capable of performing all standard modes of AFM as well as scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM), nanoTA (thermomechanical analysis sub-100 micron resolution), heated tip AFM (HT-AFM) and scanning thermal microscopy (SThM).

 11   X-Ray Diffraction Suite

Single crystals and powder diffractometers allow the accurate structural characterisation for crystalline materials. They also provide information about sample purity and reactivity under varied atmospheric conditions.

 12   Solid-state NMR Spectrometer (SSNMR)

SSNMR spectroscopy uses the magnetic properties of atoms to determine the atomic-level structure of solid materials.

 13   Automated Tape Placement

The ATP is a unique robotic machine in Ireland to provide an advanced method of manufacturing and joining composite components. This technology offers significant advantages, such as increased productivity and superior accuracy, over more traditional techniques.   

 14   Crystallisation Research Pilot

These (14, 20) are a unique equipment suite with dedicated units for crystallisation, isolation and drying of materials coupled with on-line monitoring facilities enabling the reproduction of batch and continuous process configurations, ideally suited for the pharmaceutical sector.

 15   Thermal Analysis Suite

Thermal analysis instruments typically measure heat flow, weight loss, dimension change, or mechanical properties as a function of temperature. Properties characterised include melting, crystallisation, glass transitions, cross-linking, oxidation, decomposition, volatilisation, coefficient of thermal expansion, and modulus. This allows the user to examine end-use performance, composition, processing, stability, and molecular structure and mobility.