The NMCF houses a suite of sample preparation equipment for Metallography and Electron Microscopy as listed below. These systems are located in Jesser Hall. Sample preparation for SEM and TEM can also be done with our Helios FIB-SEM in Wilsdorf Hall. In addition, Rockwell, Vickers, and Knoop hardness testing equipment is available in Jesser Hall. For information on rates click here.

NMCF Metallographic and SEM Sample Preparation

Allied Hi-Tech Autopolisher

The High-Tech Autopolisher is a programmable semi-automatic sample polisher and grinder for < 1 inch samples, located in Jesser Hall Room 129.

Use the Autopolisher calendar for scheduling time on this instrument.

Programmable parameters include: force mode, platen speed (40-600 RPM), comp/contra rotation (sample holder/platen), 0-120 minutes (15 second increments) cycle time, sample force (LbF or N), sample rotation speed, water rinse and force reduction (on/off, %).

Precision Cut-off Saw

ATM Brilliant 220 Precision Cut-Off Saw 8'' in Jesser Hall room 129.

A Struers Labotom-5 manual cut-off saw is located in the basement of Jesser Hall.

Techcut4 Cut-off Saw

Use the Allied Tech Techcut4 slow speed saw in Jesser Hall room 129 for cutting smaller samples.

As for all cut-off saws, you need to bring your own blades.


Sample Lapping and Polishing Equipment

Jesser Hall room 129 in MSB houses four polishing and lapping wheels, three 8 inch wheels, one 12 inch wheel, and one 8 inch auto/manual polisher.

Hitachi IM4000 Flat Milling System

The Hitachi IM4000 system, located in Jesser Hall room 131, is used as the final preparation step to obtain flat samples for SEM and for hardness testing. The IM4000 also allows preparation of large cross sections of samples by using specimen masks.

Gatan Precision Etching and Polishing System (PECS)

The Gatan 682 PECS, located in Jesser Hall room 131, allows for etching of surfaces and for sputter coating of different materials. For non-conductive samples to be studied in SEM a conductive layer can be deposited with the PECS.

Technics Sputter Coater

The Technics coater in Jesser Hall room 131 allows sputter coating 30 nm of AuPd in 1 minute. We can coat a large sample up to 2" in diameter and up to 3/4" tall, or multiple SEM stubs at one time: 6x 1/2" stubs or 3x 1" stubs. Training videos for the Technics coater are available and should be reviewed prior to instrument training. Heat-sensitive samples can not be sputter coated with the Technics coater, instead, use the PECS system for sputter coating of heat-sensitive materials.

Cressington Sputter Coater

The Cressington sputter coater in Jesser Hall room 131 allows sputter coating 30 nm of AuPd or Pt in 1 minute. We can coat a large sample up to 2 1/2" in diameter and up to 3" tall, or multiple SEM stubs at one time: 12x 1/2" stubs or 5x 1" stubs. Heat-sensitive samples can be sputter coated at a large working distance using the manual mode of the Cressington sputter coater.

NMCF Sample Preparation for TEM

Allied High-Tech Multiprep System

The MultiPrep™ System enables precise semiautomatic sample preparation of a wide range of materials for microscopic (optical, SEM, FIB, TEM, AFM...

Gatan Precision Ion Polishing System (PIPS)

The Gatan 691 PIPS system, located in Jesser Hall room 131, is used as the final preparation step for many types of TEM samples. 3 mm disks cut from bulk materials or from embedded cross sections are thinned to less than 50 micron before argon ion milling in the FIB.

Ultrasonic Disc Cutter

The Fischione model 170 Ultrasonic Disc Cutter for cutting 3 mm discs is located in Jesser Hall room 131.

Henniker Plasma Cleaner

The Henniker HPT100 Plasma Cleaner in Jesser Hall room 131 removes carbon and other contamination from surfaces. In addition surfaces can be activated for improved adhesion using specific settings.

Dimple Grinder

Fischione Model 150 Dimple Grinder in Jesser Hall room 131 is used to reduce sample thickness in the center of a 3 mm disc for TEM sample preparation.

Electro-Polishing Unit

The Fischione model 110+140 Electro-Polisher is useful for final thinning of metallic samples. It may also be used for sample polishing of materials. This instrument is located in Jesser Hall room 131.

NMCF Hardness Testing

Rockwell Hardness Testing

Wilson Model 4 Rockwell Hardness Tester in Jesser Hall room 162.

Tinius Olsen (Micro-) Vickers and Knoop Hardness Tester

The Tinius Olsen FH 14-1 is a new-generation Micro Vickers, Vickers, and Knoop hardness tester. Load range calibrated for 100 or 500g. Meets or exceeds ISO, ASTM, and JIS standards. Located in Jesser Hall Room 162.

Contact Us

Joe Thompson

Laboratory Specialist, Materials Science & Engineering and VDOT NMCF Principal Scientist for Raman, AFM, SEM/Optical Microscopy, & Metallurgy

Joe Thompson joined the NMCF as a Laboratory Specialist, also providing analysis for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). He specializes in Raman Spectroscopy, Atomic Force Microscopy, and Optical and Electron Microscopies. 

Richard White

Laboratory Manager, Materials Science & Engineering NMCF Facility Manager NMCF Principal Scientist for SEM, TEM, Optical, Metallography

Richard White is the NMCF Laboratory Manager and Electron Microscopy & Metallurgy Specialist. He specializes in Scanning Electron Microscopy imaging and compositional analysis; Optical Microscopy; Hardness Measurements; and Metallurgical Techniques for SEM and TEM. 

Helge Heinrich

Research Scientist, Materials Science & Engineering Principal Scientist for HR-S/TEM & FIB-SEM

Dr. Helge Heinrich joined the NMCF as the Principal Scientist for High-resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy, with expertise in focused ion beam sample preparation and cross sectional electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) from the University of Central Florida.