Equipment coming soon to MRL

NanoRaman AFM-Raman/PL/TERS/TEPL with XploRA PLUS Raman Microscope from Horiba

This equipment was funded through the Illinois MRSEC, NSF Award Number DMR-1720633.

The XploRA PLUS Raman Microscope head-based tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS) and tip enhanced photoluminescence (TEPL) from Horiba, Inc. is a fully integrated TERS/TEPL system based on SmartSPM state of the art scanning probe microscope (SPM) and XploRA Raman micro-spectrometer. It uses a feedback light source with wavelength of 1300 nm. Filters at the feedback light source and detector avoid interference from the lasers used for spectroscopy. This allows for co-localized and simultaneous TERS and atomic force microscopy (AFM) measurements with excitation wavelengths of 532 nm and 638 nm. Some of the main instrument features are:

  • Fully motorized and automated SPM feedback laser alignment.
  • Automatic cantilever to the spectroscopic laser after AFM tip exchange.
  • Motorized sample scanning stage with 10 nm step resolution and 70 x 50 mm X-Y movement range.
  • Scanning range 30 x 30 x 15 µm.
  • Conductive AFM measurement module allows low current Kelvin Probe measurements in a range of 100 fA to 10 microamperes.
  • Top-down and side spectroscopy excitation and collection allowing different measurement geometries.
  • Integrated color 5 MPixels USB camera.
  • The SPM and the optical microscope can be operated as stand-alone instruments.
  • The optical microscope is fully automated, truly confocal and capable of point and fast spectroscopic imaging.
  • Confocal Raman / PL operation with a spatial resolution of 500 nm in XY and 1.5 microns in Z.
  • In TERS / TEPL mode, spatial resolution is dictated by SPM probe diameter and can be better than 10 nm.
  • Integrated spectrometer with four automated tunable gratings (600, 1200, 1800, and 2400 gr/mm) enabling different spectral ranges and resolutions.
  • Spectral resolutions of 1.4 cm-1 (532 nm laser) and 1.2 cm-1 (638 nm laser).
  • The spectral detector is a deep-cooled, front-illuminated low-noise / high-sensitivity EMCCD detector featuring a dark current of < 0.003 e-/pixel/s and readout noise < 1 e- at 3 MHz.
  • Fully motorized, software-controlled polarization optics.
  • High efficiency filters allow Raman detection from 50 cm-1 and 60 cm-1 for the red and the green laser, respectively.

Our system will also include a photocurrent mapping module for photocurrent, photovoltage, electroluminescence applications, which provides precision voltage and current sourcing and measurement capabilities. It can act as a voltage source, a current source, a voltage meter, a current meter, an ohmmeter, and an electronic load.

Expected installation: Fall 2021, in the MRL Laser and Spectroscopy Facility Core.


ThermoFisher Axia ChemiSEM

The Axia ChemiSEM is a new generation of scanning electron microscope, designed to provide the most efficient SEM-EDS user experience possible. Low-vacuum mode will provide several advantages when dealing with non-conductive samples; not only does it enable charge-free imaging, but it also allows an increase in the material contrast and the use of higher beam currents to perform chemical analyses.

Some of the instrument features are:

  • Thermal emission W gun.
  • Alignment-free operation.
  • Live Quantitative Elemental Mapping: A single scan generator controls both SE/BSE and X-ray acquisition, creating perfectly aligned EDS and imagery data.
  • Thermo Scientific Nav-Cam™ Navigation Camera.
  • Accelerating voltage range: 200 V – 30 kV.
  • Magnification: 5 to 1,000,000×.
  • Integrated current measurement: up to 2 μA, continuously adjustable beam current range.
  • Detectors:
    • TrueSight X EDS detector. Solid angle 13 mSr, resolution 129 eV
    • ETD: Everhart-Thornley SE detector
    • Low-vacuum SE detector (LVD), standard on LoVac model, with adjustable pressure up to 150 Pa
    • Motorized retractable backscattered electron detector that offers two different segments for more tunable contrast
  • Set of 3 apertures 200 um, 3 mm diameter.
  • Electron beam resolution:
    • High-vacuum imaging
      • 3.0 nm @ 30 kV (SE)
      • 8.0 nm @ 3 kV (SE)
    • Low-vacuum imaging
      • 3.0 nm @ 30 kV (SE)
      • 4.0 nm @ 30 kV (BSE)
      • 10 nm @ 3 kV (SE)
  • 280 mm inner width chamber.
  • Stage:
    • XY: 120x120 mm Eucentric Stage
    • Tilt: -15 to +90 degrees
    • Rotation: n x 360°
    • With ZTR axes removed:
      • Max. sample height: 128 mm
      • Max. sample weight: 10 kg
  • NT7 Holder: hosts up to 7 standard stubs (ø 12 mm), and does not require tools to mount a sample.
  • CCD IR camera for viewing sample in chamber.
  • 24'' Widescreen LCD Monitor.
  • Thermo Scientific Maps™ Software.
  • Manual user interface.
  • Remote control / imaging.
  • Workstation with Windows 10.

Expected installation: August 2021, in the MRL Supercon 0018 SEM lab.


ThermoFisher Scientific Talos™ F200X G2 Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope (S/TEM)

The Talos F200X G2 is a 200 kV FEG Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope (S/TEM) that combines outstanding quality in high-resolution STEM and TEM imaging with high throughput EDS signal detection and 3D chemical characterization with compositional mapping. It is designed for fast, precise and quantitative characterization of nano-materials. It accelerates nano-analysis of materials based on higher data quality, faster acquisition, and simplified and automated operation. The system’s Constant-Power™ X-TWIN lens delivers outstanding optical performance to help ensure an optimal balance of contrast and resolution.

The microscope comes with numerous advanced functions and new features:

 X-FEG high-brightness electron source for high brightness, high temporal and spatial coherence.

  • Constant-Power Objective lens control stabilizes the optics while switching between various optical modes.
  • Lorentz Lens enabling imaging magnetic structures in field-free conditions.
  • The EMPAD (Electron Microscope Pixelated Array Detector) pixelated detector for acquiring the diffraction pattern in each pixel of a STEM image, with the speed of up to 1100 fps.
  • 4k x 4k Ceta™ 16M camera with Speed Enhancement provides fast frame rate imaging up to 40 fps at full frames, and 300 FPS for reduced frame size.
  • The 4D STEM software package for the Ceta™ 16M camera, synchronizes the STEM spot movement with the readout of the camera.
  • Super-X SDD EDS detection system with 4 large area crystals, and large EDS collection solid angle of 0.7 steradians for high count rate and high-resolution EDS analysis.
  • Segmented Panther STEM detector, along with HAADF detector, provides access to a large range of BF and DF STEM imaging techniques with 4k x 4k STEM image acquisition.
  • TEM Tomography, STEM Tomography, and EDS Tomography data acquisition software packages provide capability to obtain 3D structure and chemical information.
  • Inspect3D Xpress hardware and software for carrying out alignment of tomography data and subsequent ultra-fast tomographic reconstruction
  • Maps 3 S/TEM image acquisition and processing software for automatically acquiring images from a large area by shifting the CompuStage and stitching all the images into a final image.
  • Velox™ software for multi-signal simultaneous acquisition guides the typical workflow of STEM imaging, EDS acquisition and analysis, and special applications: DPC / iDPC (Differential Phase Contrast / Integrated DPC), and drift-corrected frame imaging (DCFI).
  • Align Genie fully automated software for aligning and (fine-) tuning the optics and column alignments in TEM mode.
  • AutoSTEM automated alignment software for the correction of focus and astigmatism correction in STEM mode up to 1 Mx magnification.
  • Computerized 5-axes Piezo enhanced stage ensures drift-free imaging with high sensitivity and precise sample navigation.
  • Fully computer controlled and motorized apertures whose alignments and positions are automatically recalled.
  • A new high speed, high dynamic range, damage insensitive digital Search and View Camera SmartCam replacing conventional fluorescent screen.
  • Instrument enclosure that moderates the impact from the air pressure waves, air flows, and fine temperature variations in the TEM room.
  • Probe current and STEM detector collection angles indicated in real time in TEM user interface.
  • The microscope will be installed  with column alignments at 80, 100 and 200 kV.


  • HRTEM line resolution:  0.10 nm
  • HRSTEM:                             0.16 nm
  • Brightness of X-FEG:       1.8 × 109 A /cm2 srad (@200kV)
  • Super-X EDS system:      4 SDD symmetric design, windowless, shutter-protected
  • Energy resolution:           ≤136 eV for Mn-Kα and 10 kcps (output)

Expected installation: Fall 2021, in the MRL B70C TEM lab.