Materials Characterization Lab | Materials Research Institute Skip to main content

Welcome to the Materials Characterization Lab

These little mushroom clouds were created from a Q-switched ultraviolet laser at the Applied Research Laboratory’s Laser Processing Division.

Our capabilities can increase the different degrees of understanding why different materials show different properties and behaviours.

MCL is a unique combination of a diverse range of techniques along with nearly 20 highly trained technical and support staff.

FESEM of the growth of gallium nitride at low-temperatures on CVD graphene that has been transferred onto float glass.

We are passionate about education and collaborative problem solving.

Capabilities and Characterization Techniques

Micro-hardness testing permits measuring the hardness of a material on a microscopic scale. The Qness Q60 A+ microindenter is a fully automated system with quick and precise positioning relative to the sample. The machine is equipped with three different magnification lenses (10X, 40X, and 65X) and three indenters (Vickers, Knoop and Brinell), which facilitate hardness measurements across a broad range of materials. Samples with varying heights and tilts can be indented at the same time with the Qness CAS sample holders.

Life Sciences Atomic Force Microscopy (bio - AFM)

Atomic force microscopy allows direct visualization of the three-dimensional structure of a sample surface with nanoscale resolution. Unlike many other high-resolution imaging techniques, AFM does not require staining or coating of the sample, leaving native surfaces unaltered. Together with the ability to operate in a fluid environment, this makes AFM an unparalleled technique for studying biomolecules and the dynamics of biological processes in situ and in almost real-time.

ToF-SIMS extends beyond the world of hard materials

Our Story

We are passionate about education and collaborative problem solving. An interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers, the Materials Characterization Laboratory (MCL) is a fully-staffed, open access, analytical research facility at Penn State's Materials Research Institute charged with enabling research and educating the next generation of highly qualified researchers. Our laboratories in the Millennium Science Complex are integrated with the Nanofabrication Laboratory to maximize impact and efficiency.

MCL Customer Quotes

It has been a great experience working with the professional and responsive team at MCL.  The opportunity for our scientists to work in the lab alongside MCL staff is a key benefit.  Saint-Gobain maintains its own facilities but the ability to access cutting edge instrumentation and materials expertise provides tremendous opportunity.  The flexibility in how one can engage the lab makes MCL a significant resource for companies of all sizes.

Saint-Gobain Surface Conditioning

The MCL is truly state of the art, not only with respect to the lab’s technology and experienced staff, but also with regard to the ability to accommodate industrial applications, budgets, and timelines.  The lab has provided resources that would otherwise be inaccessible, and has actively engaged in projects as a member of our team.

A Medical Device Company

The most impressive aspect of working with MCL is the gateway opportunity it provides. We established a dialogue with experts in disciplines that are relevant to our needs and gave us a more in depth analysis. This review provided us additional considerations that we had not considered in some cases. The ability to talk thru issues and opportunities that MCL can support us with gives another degree dimensionality that proves invaluable.

Bill Bezubic, Director of Engineering and Technical Services; MI Windows and Doors

MCL rapidly became essential team members on our project. With their expert involvement, we were able to quickly understand and control the complex material science issues critical to the program’s success. Working with MCL we were able to bring new technology to market faster and more reliably.

Global Product Development Manager – International Materials Company.

Attend 2DCC talks at APS in March, 2020

Interactive Flip Book