Characterization Facilities
Major Equipment
TA modulated dynamic mechanical analysis (Q800 DMA) system for the measurement of thermo mechanical properties as a function of temperature or frequency.

Use: DMA is used to study the viscoelastic properties with respect to temperature or frequency. Thermal mechanical properties such as storage modulus, loss modulus, tan d and glass transition temperature can be determined. It can also be used to perform tensile test of thin film. Time-temperature superposition experiment using DMA conveniently determines the temperature-dependent mechanical properties of linear viscoelastic materials from known properties at a reference temperature.

Specification: DMA Q800 from TA Instruments, New Castle, Delaware, USA, operates over a wide temperature range (-150 to 600°C) and provides multiple modes of deformation including dual/single cantilever and 3-point bending, tension, compression, and shear. Below are the specifications.

Sample result:

DMA film tension test of a polyimide (10 °C/min to 400 °C in air).

TA modulated thermogravimetric analysis (Q500 TGA) system for the measurement of weight change as a function of temperature or time and decomposition kinetics.

Use: TGA is essentially an electronic balance monitoring the weight of a given sample throughout a process, which can be heating, cooling, isothermal, reaction, decomposition, and so on. The sample is tested under a controlled atmosphere.

Specification: DMA Q500 from TA Instruments, New Castle, Delaware, USA, can operate over from room temperature to 1000 °C. Typical atmosphere in the test can inert gas such as nitrogen, argon or helium and reactive gas such as air or oxygen. Flammable gas such as hydrogen is normally avoided unless under extremely safety precautions.

Sample result:

TGA test of calcium oxalate monohydrate (20 °C/min to 1000 °C in nitrogen).

Instron tensile tester (5982 Floor Model Universal Testing Systems for High-Capacity) with optical laser extensometer for the tensile properties of various materials including polymer, composite and metal.

Use: The Instron tensile tester (Model 5982, Instron Corp., Norwood, MA, USA) is used to test the tensile strength, strain and toughness of a material.

Specification: This Instron tensile tester has:

Sample result:

Tensile testing results for different Polyurea formulations

Agilent Cary 630 FTIR

Use: It is used to detect chemical bonds and species. Specifically, FTIR can identify and confirm plastics, elastomers, and adhesive materials by comparing spectra with the onboard library. Verify the composition and quality of composites, coatings and thin films. Analyze contaminants during semiconductor processing and solar cell manufacturing. Confirm that formulated and finished products comply with defined specifications. Track paint curing and composition. Determine the concentration of UV stabilizers, antioxidants, or filler in plastics. Determine the degree of cure and composition of rubber.

Specification: Agilent Cary 630 FTIR from Agilent Technologies, Santa Clara, CA, USA, has the weight of only 3.8 kg (8 lb). It can analyze either solid or liquid material. The wave number can be up to 4000 cm-1. Each test can be quickly finished in half minute.

Sample result:

Effect of hygrothermal aging on IR absorption peak around ~3300 cm-1 and 1720-1630 cm-1 for polyurea-POSS composite specimens.

Nanovea Nano Mechanical Tester

Use: Nano indentation and scratch testing


Sample result:

Nanoindentation loading-unloading curves for Tuscaloosa oil shale

Nanosurf Atomic Force Microscope

Use: Both contact and tapping modes for imaging topography (amplitude) and phase of materials at a resolution more than 1000 times higher than optical diffraction limit


Sample result:

2D, 3D AFM image and section profile of a nanoindent on the Woodford shale (left) and Tuscaloosa Shale (right)

Tenney Environmental Chamber (from TPS Thermal Product Solutions), for the aging experiment of sample by controlled temperature and humidity.

Use: The environmental chamber is used to mimic the cycling of weather in the aging of materials.

Specification: The temperature in the chamber can be cycled between -75 °C - 200 °C with relative humidity ranging between 20% RH - 95% RH. The chamber has Versa Tenn III controller to create and execute a temperature and relative humidity loop program for continuous environmental cycling. The environmental chamber is connected to data acquisition software to capture temperature and humidity variation during the environmental cycling.

Sample result:

Effect of environmental cycles on tensile strength of polyurea and polyurea-POSS composites.

Gamry Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy with EIS 300 software.

Use: The EIS300TM Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy Software allows you to measure impedances spanning 15 orders of magnitude over a frequency range of 10 μHz to 1 MHz. EIS300 includes experimental scripts for potentiostatic, galvanostatic and hybrid impedance spectroscopy experiments in addition to single frequency techniques like Mott-Schottky.

Sample result:

Effect of accelerated aging of freeze and taw cycling on the Impedance magnitude of adhesively bonded aluminum plates using pressure sensitive adhesive.

Humboldt rapid freeze-thaw cabinet.

Use: The rapid freeze-thaw cabinet is used to measure the resistance of concrete to deterioration caused by repeated cycles of freezing and thawing in water. The system is designed to test up to eighteen 3" x 4" x 16" (76 x 102 x 406cm) concrete specimens simultaneously, with one being a control.


Sample result:

Slant Shear Strength of repaired prisms subjected to freezing and thawing cycles.

Other Charecterization Equipment (Mechanical Engineering)