SHyNE facilities offer a huge array of characterization tools that span length scales across several orders of magnitude from atomic/molecular studies all the way to macroscopic structures. The vast characterization capabilities include a large number of imaging tools including electron and optical microscopy as well as scanning probe microscopes. We also offer systems for spectroscopic analysis including nuclear magnetic resonance, raman spectroscopy and many, many more. Our labs are operated by technical experts that can assist you with data collection and analysis as well as provide training for your team. Chances are, if you have a characterization need, the SHyNE facilities have the tools and expertise to assist you.

Electron Microscopy

Electron Microscopy

The electron microscopy (EM) capabilities in SHyNE are the largest such resource in the Chicago area. Virtually every EM technique is represented in our facilities and we have a large team of EM experts ready to assist you with your project. Whether you want to do particle size analysis at the micrometer-scale, analyze a fracture surface or perform atomic resolution spectroscopy, SHyNE facilities can assist from the sample preparation to the microscope operation to the collection and analysis of your data.

Transmission Electron Microscopy

  • Cryo capabilities

Scanning Electron Microscopy

  • Cryo capabilities

Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy

  • Cryo capabilities

In situ Electron Microscopy (liquid, gas, heating, electrical bias)


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Ion Beam Techniques

Ion Beam Techniques

Broadly categorized as ion beam techniques, the instruments in this group offer unique capabilities for sample preparation and characterization. A state-of-the-art Focused Ion Beam (FIB) system allows both site-specific sample preparation for other SHyNE instruments (TEM, LEAP) as well as device prototyping and 3D reconstruction through FIB tomography (slice-and-view). Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectroscopy (TOF-SIMS) is also available for high sensitivity analysis and mapping of surfaces. The local electron atom probe (LEAP) instrument combines a field ion microscope with a position sensitive mass spectrometer for nearly atomic resolution, chemically specific, 3D tomographic reconstruction of your sample.

Focused Ion Beam

  • TEM and LEAP sample prep
  • Automated slice-and-view FIB tomography



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X-Ray Techniques

X-Ray Techniques

Virtually all modern X-ray techniques are available within SHyNE facilities from single crystal XRD for structure elucidation to thin film texture analysis and in situ heating studies. SHyNE facilities also has a prototyping capability with the DND-CAT facility to allow users to preview sample before using the advanced photon source at Argonne National Laboratory. In addition to XRD capabilities we also have X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and X-ray fluorescence (XRD) for chemical analysis.





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Laser and Optical

Laser and Optical


Within the broad category of laser and optical technique fall a large range of imaging and spectroscopic capabilities. On the imaging side, we have traditional optical and fluorescence microscopes as well as 3D optical microscopes. On the spectroscopy side, we offer everything from Raman to IR to ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy. We also have tools for thin film analysis by ellipsometry and reflectometry as well as particle size analysis by dynamic light scattering and even contact angle measurement.

3D Optical Microscopy

Raman Spectroscopy



Ellipsometry and Reflectometry



Optical and Fluorescence Microscopy

Contact Angle

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Scanning Probe Microscopy & Nanopatterning

Scanning Probe Microscopy & Nanopatterning

SHyNE hosts an array of advanced scanning probe microscopy (SPM) and nanopatterning instrumentation that offers high-speed, quantitative nanoscale mechanical, electrical and magnetic, along with life science imaging capabilities which can also provide correlated fluorescence microscopy. Virtually every SPM mode and technique is available within SHyNE as well as novel techniques being developed by active research in the facilities.

Nano- and Micro-scale Indentation Capabilities

  • Quasi-static and dynamic mechanical properties of soft and hard materials
  • Temperature dependent viscoelastic properties
  • Nanoscale scratch testing and modulus mapping

Advanced Scanning Probe Microscopy

  • High speed AFM
  • Dimension ICON AFM for wide range of measurements and analysis at molecular scale
  • Life science imaging system
    • Combined optical/AFM/fluorescent microscopy
    • Mechanical analysis in fluidic environments
  • Electrical/Mechanical/Magnetic Analysis

Nanopatterning Capabilities

  • Multiplexed nanopatterning
  • Multilayered nanopatterning

High Resolution Raman Spectroscopy

  • Chemical mapping
  • Photoluminesence
  • Multi-lasers
  • Polarized Raman microscopy
  • Sample and beam scanning capabilities
  • Raman Spectroscopy in liquids

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Molecular Characterization

Molecular Characterization

SHyNE hosts a variety of molecular characterization tools for analyzing the building-blocks of your system. These include a range of different nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) systems with different capabilities tailored to your specific needs and mass spectrometry.






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Electrical Characterization

Electrical Characterization

If you are building devices in the SHyNE fabrication facilities or elsewhere, we also offer the capabilities to characterize their performance.

Electrical probe station

In situ SEM nanoprobe

Hall effect measurement

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Sample Preparation

Sample Preparation

Any reliable characterization begins with good sample preparation. In the SHyNE facilities we have spent years developing tools and techniques to prepare pristine samples for all of the various characterization tools in our labs. We have staff with decades of experience preparing samples to make sure you can get the most out of our advanced instrumentation.

Sample coating

  • Sputter coating, ion beam sputtering, Os coating, carbon coating

Ion beam thinning

  • Fischione nanomill, IBT, Gatan PIPS

Automated mechanical polishing

Plasma cleaning


Cryogenic Sample Preparation

  • High-pressure freezing
  • Plunge freezing
  • Cryo ultramicrotomy
  • Freeze fracturing/etching/coating


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