University of Arkansas at Little Rock


The Center houses a network of state-of-the-art instrumentation, much of which can be utilized by students, researchers, and industry customers. To fund instrument maintenance and upkeep, CINS charges standard minimal rates for equipment usage. These rates are subject to change; to determine the cost of your desired work, please email

In order to utilize CINS equipment, you must either obtain CINS staff assistance or be trained and certified by authorized CINS personnel. All users, whether staff-assisted or not, must follow the policies laid out on the CINS Instrumentation Policies page. Please note that what instruments are currently available can change without notice. To discuss the availability of a specific instrument, please contact Dr. Fumiya Watanabe, Director of Instrumentation, at or 501.916.6506.

Approved users can reserve an instrument session on the reservation page.

Analytical Instrumentation

Ultramicrotome, Leica UC7

The Ultramicrotome uses a diamond knife to produce ultra-thin sections of biological/soft samples, such as resin-embedded cells and bioscaffolds, which are thin enough to be observed in TEM. This device can also be used to prepare samples for SEM, AFM, and optical microscopy.

Atomic Force Microscope, Bruker Dimension-Icon with FastScan (Peak Force)

The atomic force microscope (AFM) by Bruker-Nano with the ability to analyze various materials down to atomic level was funded by NSF and installed in September 2016. This AFM allows us to visualize morphological changes that take place on a material’s surface in real time under variable conditions. The instrument also has the ability to monitor cellular biology and interaction with various nanomaterials.

Scanning Electron Microscope, JEOL JSM – 7000F

The scanning electron microscope utilizes a highly focused electron beam, having a diameter approaching 1nm, to images a sample. The finely focused electron beam is scanned across the surfaces of materials in a raster scan pattern. The interactions of the electrons with the elements consisting the sample material result in emission of lower energy electrons, called secondary electrons, and an image is formed by displaying the variations in the secondary electron intensities as the primary electron beam is rastered. Elastically scattered electrons (backscattered electrons) can be used to form images. The JSM-7000F offers high resolution, a multi-purpose specimen chamber, a motorized, automated specimen stage, and one-action specimen exchange.

  • EDS (energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer) (EDAX Element) for spectroscopy and elemental mapping.
  • E-beam lithography by JC Nabity

Transmission Electron Microscope, JEOL JEM – 2100F

The transmission electron microscope (TEM) is capable of atomic scale resolution in most samples, and  provides atomic level structural analyses in materials sciences, biology, and medicine. The JEM-2100F features ultrahigh resolution (0.1nm) and rapid data acquisition. The side-entry goniometer stage provides ease of use tilt, rotation, heating and cooling, programmable multi-point settings without mechanical drift. TEM can decipher materials structures by diffraction patterns in combination with atomic scale imaging. Our JEM-2100F is capable of operation in Scanning TEM (STEM) mode for atomic scale elemental mapping.

  • Field Emission Gun for ultrahigh resolution
  • EDS (X-ray spectrometer) by EDAX for elemental mapping and spectroscopy
  • 2 Gatan CCDs for wide ranges of imaging capabilities
  • Cold stage for cryomicroscopy
  • Large tilting capability for tomography

Fluorescence Microscope, Olympus BX51

The BX51 is an upright microscope ideal for fluorescence of DIC microscopy, primarily used for observing biological cell samples.

  • Bright 12V/100W halogen illumination source is ideal for transmitted light viewing
  • The frame has two built-in neutral density filters (ND6, ND25), one daylight balancing filter, and one empty slot for an optional filter-fluorescence illuminator

Inverted Digital Microscope, Fischer Scientific Micromaster

The inverted microscope is ideal for live cell observation. This model features infinity-corrected optics, as well as bright-field and phase contrast illumination techniques.

X-Ray Diffractometer, Bruker D8-Discover

The X-ray diffractometer (XRD) analyzes crystal structures by the scattering pattern produced when a beam of X-rays interacts with the material. The Bruker D8 Discovery diffractometer is capable of analyzing very small sample quantities, inhomogeneous or oriented samples of complex shape geometry.

  • Vanetc-500 detector (2D wire detector)
  • Point Detector (scintillation detector)
  • Vertical Eulerian Cradle
  • Laser-video alignment system

Micro-Raman, Horiba Jobin Yvon LabRam 800

The micro-Raman records Raman scattering spectra at room temperature with a High Resolution LabRam system (Horiba HR 800 UV Spectrometer) equipped with 1800 and 600 grooves/mm holographic gratings. Two laser excitations are used for the analysis of the samples, and the spectra are collected in the back-scattering geometry with the help of a confocal Raman microscope, equipped with Olympus objectives (100x, 50x, 10x).

  • Laser spot diameter of about 1 μm
  • Peltier CCD camera detection system for data acquisition

Surface Area Analyzer, Micromeritics ASAP 2020

The Accelerated Surface Area and Porosimetry analyzer measures surface areas by absorbing different gasses at cryogenic temperature. Data obtained by this equipment is used to characterize the active and support surfaces of catalysts, to determine the high surface areas of adsorbents, and to determine the microporosity and hydrogen storage capacity of various nanomaterials, such as our bioscaffolds. Materials with relatively low surface areas such as powdered metals, glass fibers, and natural organic materials can also be analyzed.

  • Two independent vacuum systems that allow preparation and analysis to occur concurrently
  • Oil-free “dry” vacuum option to prevent oil contamination

Hall Effect Analyzer, Ecopia HMS-5000

The Hall Effect Analyzer measures concentration, mobility, and resistivity of the charge carriers, all in relation to temperature. The system is used to characterize electrical properties of various materials and semiconductors.

Spectrofluorometer, Horiba NanoLog

The NanoLog series of spectrofluorometers are specifically designed for research in nanotechnology and the frontiers of nanomaterials. The NanoLog detects fluorescence in the near-infrared from 800 to 1700 nm. A complete spectrum can be scanned in as quickly as a few milliseconds, and a full excitation-emission matrix scan can be taken in as little as seconds. Data from this instrument is used for classifying single-walled nanotubes, performing energy transfer calculations, and saving custom routines and instrument layouts.

Spectrometer, Shimadzu 3600 UV-Vis-NIR

This tool has an optional integrated sphere and is designed to measure optical transmission, absorption, and reflectivity for both liquid and solid samples from the UV to IR range. Optical properties of nanoagents such as nanoparticles and nanorods are often measured by it. This model is equipped with 2 light sources (Tungsten and Deuterium lamps) and 3 detectors:

  • PMT detector (photomultiplier tube) for ultraviolet and visible regions
  • PbS detector for near infrared regions, where sensitivity is typically low
  • InGaAs detector for near infrared regions, this detector bridges the gap between the PMT–PbS to ensure high sensitivity over the entire measurement wavelength range

Spectroscopic Ellipsometry, Horiba Uvisel

The spectroscopic ellipsometer is used to measure the dielectric properties (complex refractive index or dielectric function) of thin films by measuring the changes in polarization upon reflection and/or transmittance by comparing it to a model. The modeling also enables determination of film thickness. It can analyze electronic thin films and provides fast data acquisition and high accuracy.

X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy, Thermo K-Alpha XPS System

The K-Alpha is a fully integrated X-ray photoelectron spectrometer which measures the elemental composition and chemical states of a material. The XPS irradiates a material with an X-ray beam while measuring the kinetic energy and the number of escaping electrons as a result of photoelectric effects. It is capable of obtaining both photoelectrons and Auger electrons. These two types of electrons yield complementary information on the chemical (bonding) states of the elements present on the surface of the material. XPS is a surface spectroscopic technique with a depth of typically less than 10 nm.

  • Ion gun to sputter very thin layers at time for depth profiling of the elements
  • Neutralization gun to suppress sample charging

PVE300 Spectral Responsivity/Quantum Efficiency Analyzer, Bentham Instruments

Quantum efficiency (QE) is the measurement of a device’s electrical response to light. Since the energy of a photon depends on its wavelength, QE is often measured over a range of wavelengths to characterize a device’s efficiency at each photon energy.

Thermogravimetric Analysis/Differential Scanning Calorimetry, Mettler Toledo TGA/DSC 3+

This equipment determines changes in weight in relation to temperature in a controlled atmosphere; this analysis identifies characteristics of materials to determine degradation temperatures, absorbed moisture content, the level of inorganic and organic components, and solvent residues.

  • FACT automatic weight calibration integrated in the micro- and ultramicro-balances
  • FlexCal automatically corrects for heating rate, type of crucible, module, and purge gas
  • Gas-tight measuring cell as basis for definable measurement environment
  • Wide sample range, up to 900 μl

Single Column Universal Electromechanical Testing Machine with EP2 Digital Controller & Guage Safe Basic Testing Software

This instrument is used for testing mechanical properties such as tensile modulus, tensile yield strength, tensile strength at break, and elongation of plastics (thin polymer films).

Instruments for Nanomaterial Synthesis and Functionalization

Advanced Deposition Chamber

The system can deposit multi-layers of 12 different materials or a composite of five different materials. It is interfaced with a glove box for handling moisture-sensitive materials. It enables the deposition of materials using three techniques: electron beam vapor deposition, effusion cell thermal evaporation, and sputtering.

Matrix-Assisted Pulsed Laser Evaporation (MAPLE)

This system uses an unconventional evaporation method of target formation and laser evaporation to grow thin films. It has a liquid nitrogen-cooled target holder that enables the target material to be dissolved and frozen at the cryogenic temperature. Undegraded deposition of the cryogenically prepared targets by laser evaporation in vacuum is possible in this system. This technique is highly suitable for controlled deposition of biological materials, such as protein and enzymes, which cannot be deposited using conventional high-temperature-based evaporation techniques, as the high temperature could degrade the molecules.

Photo Current Density Measurement System (Princeton Applied Research)

This system is used to characterize photo-electro-chemical (PEC) solar cells by measuring the current output of a PEC device under simulated solar light. This technique helps determine the efficiency of PEC solar cells and can measure their photo-corrosion properties under electrolytes.

Two-Electrode Anodizer

Anodizing is the process used to increase the thickness of natural oxide on the surface of metals. This equipment is set up for the growth of metal-oxide nanostructures.

Contact Angle Measurement System with High Speed Camera (Kruss-USA)

This system analyzes the wettability of surfaces. It can also measure the surface tension of liquids and the surface energy of materials. The high-speed camera (up to 100,000 fps) attachment helps in studying the bouncing properties of liquids on a surface.

Pulsed Laser Deposition System

This system is a thin film deposition technique in which a high-power pulsed laser beam is focused inside a vacuum chamber to strike a target of the material to be deposited. This material is vaporized from the target, which deposits it as a thin film on a substrate. This process can occur in ultra-high vacuum or in the presence of a background gas, such as oxygen, which is commonly used when depositing oxides to fully oxygenate the deposited films.

Plasma Etching Device (MCS Plasma Systems)

This tool is used in the production of semiconductor devices. It produces a plasma from a process gas. A silicon wafer is placed in the plasma etcher, and the air is evacuated from the process chamber using a system of vacuum pumps. Then, a process gas is introduced at low pressure and excited into a plasma through dielectric breakdown.

Glove Box/Deposition Chamber, LC Technologies, Angstrom Engineering CoVap II

The glove box is a sealed container designed for the manipulation of objects where an inert atmosphere (<1 ppm O2 and <1 ppm H2O) is desired. Gloves are built into the sides of the glove box so that the user can place their hands into the gloves and perform tasks inside the box without breaking containment to the external environment. The integrated deposition system (Angstrom CoVap II) allows for deposition of metals and other materials by thermal evaporation. The CoVap II allows the user to deposit materials (up to 2 currently) individually, sequentially, or simultaneously.

Thin Film Measurement System, Reflectometer, Filmetric F20

The F20 instrument is a general-purpose film thickness measurement tool. For standard films, for which one optical constant is known, this is a quick method to evaluate film thickness. The analysis can be done in reflectance or transmission modes. Many times, both thickness and refractive index can be measured in seconds or less.

Biological Instrumentation

Radio Frequency Chemical Vapor Deposition System (DOD TATRC 1, W81XWH-10-2-0130)

Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) is the process of depositing films or nanoparticles by reacting chemical vapors on a substrate or catalysts. CVD reaction is activated by RF energy (radio frequency heating). This system is also used to synthesize various carbon nanostructures, such as carbon nanotubes and graphene, or different catalyst systems. In the biological application, nanoparticles or nanomaterials uptaken into cancer cells can be heated by the RF generator; as a result, the cells reach a certain temperature, and apoptosis and cell death occur.

  • 350 kHz, 5-kW RF generator coupled to a synthesis reactor.

Centrifuge, Thermo Scientific (Sorvall, l RC 6+) (DOD TATRC 2, W81XWH-11-1-0795)

The centrifuge is driven by a motor, which spins liquid samples at high speed. Centrifuges work by the sedimentation , where the centripetal acceleration is used to separate substances of greater and lesser density.

Hybrid Multi-Mode Microplate Reader (Synergy, H1) (Arkansas State Appropriations)

The microplate reader is designed to detect biological, chemical or physical events of samples in microtiter plates.

Water-Jacketed US AutoFlow NU-4750 CO2 Incubator (DOD TATRC 1, W81XWH-10-2-0130)

The incubator dependably controls its internal temperature and CO2 level. This solid-state single gas analyzer, with 32-bit digital accuracy, utilizes a filter correlation technique for non-dispersive infrared analysis of CO2. The measurement of CO2 is independent of humidity and temperature variations within the chamber.

Biological Safety Cabinet (Logic, LABCONCO, Class II, type B2)

The biological safety cabinet is an enclosed, ventilated workspace for safely working with materials contaminated with (or potentially contaminated with) pathogens.

Zeta Potential Reader (Zeta-Reader, ZPi, Mark 21) (Department of Energy, DE-FG36-06GO86072)

Zeta potential is the measurement of the electrical force between atoms, molecules, particles, or cells in a fluid. To measure this force, a potential is applied across the cell, and movement of the particles are observed.

Ultrasonic Processor, Sonics Vibra-Cell

This equipment is used for sample preparation, dispersion, homogenization, particle size reduction, and acceleration of chemical reactions.

Free Imaging Analysis/Processing Software Resources

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