University of Arkansas at Little Rock


The Center houses a significant network of state-of-the-art instrumentation, much of which can be utilized by both UA Little Rock students and facultyas well as non-UA Little Rock researchers and members of industry. Please see the drop-down menu below for lists of our currently available instruments.

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)

CINS obtained NSF funding for this new AFM instrument (Bruker-Nano), installed in early September 2016, which can analyze the morphologies and elastic properties of various materials, with resolution down to the atomic level. The FastScan capability allows us to monitor both morphological and mechanical changes that take place within a material’s structure in real time under variable conditions in 3D. The instrument also has the ability to monitor cellular proliferation and migration on a variety of composite surfaces.

Scanning Electron Microscope, JEOL JSM – 7000F

The JSM-7000F is equipped with a field emission gun, which enables ultra-high resolution secondary electron imaging (maximum ~1.2 nm at 30 kV). It is capable of imaging with acceleration voltage down to 1 kV, which allows imaging of soft materials such as biological cells and bioscaffolds. It is also equipped with a multi-purpose specimen chamber; a motorized, automated specimen stage; and one-action specimen exchange, with the following optional capabilities:

  • BEI detector for backscattered elastic electron detection
  • Energy dispersive x-ray spectrometer and electron back-scattered diffraction by EDAX for elemental analysis and elemental mapping of samples
  • E-beam lithography by JC Nabity

Transmission Electron Microscope, JEOL JEM – 2100F

The JEM-2100F, equipped with a Schottky field emission gun, features ultrahigh resolution (0.1-nm lattice resolution) and rapid data acquisition. The imaging can be performed at 200 kV, 120 kV, 100 kV, and 80 kV, enabling atomic level analysis of materials for biology, medicine, chemistry, materials science, and solid-state physics. The side-entry goniometer stage provides ease-of-use tilt, rotation, heating and cooling, and programmable multi-point settings without mechanical drift. With an energy dispersive x-ray spectrometer by EDAX, near atomic resolution elemental mapping of the sample is possible under Scanning TEM (STEM) imaging mode.

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 Bruker D8 Discovery diffractometer equipped with Cu K X-ray source can analyze very small sample quantities (capable of ~0.5-mm diameter spot) and inhomogeneous or oriented samples of complex shape geometry. This instrument provides information on structures, sizes, textures, and inhomogeneity of crystals. It is utilized to characterize both nano- and micro-particles, thin films, and macroscopic samples such as bioscaffolds and polymers.

  • GADDS detector (2D wire detector)/Vantech-500 solid state 2D detector will be installed in the Fall of 2017.
  • Point Detector (scintillation detector)
  • Vertical Eularian Cradle
  • Laser-video alignment system

Raman, Horiba Jobin Yvon LabRam 800

The Horiba HR 800 LabRam system, equipped with 1800 and 600 grooves/mm holographic gratings, is a high-resolution Raman spectrometer. Three laser excitations (514 nm, 633 nm, and 784 nm) can be used to analyze 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). The Raman microscope can analyze a wide variety of samples, from semiconductors and minerals to biological samples. Sample analysis utilizing surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) with specifically designed nanoagents is often performed, with this system enabling high resolution detection of biological cells.

  • Laser spot diameter of about 1 μm
  • Peltier-cooled 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

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.

Spectrophotometer, 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

This system is a fully integrated x-ray photoelectron spectrometer with a monochromated Al K(1486.7 eV) x-ray source with spot size from 50 to 400 microns. This device can obtain both the binding energies and Auger kinetic energies of almost all elements to determine the elemental composition, chemical states, and work function of a material. It is equipped with a neutralization capability to suppress the charging effects on insulating materials. It is also capable of depth profiling by ion (Ar+) etching. The system is utilized to analyze nanoparticles, thin films (metals, semiconductors, ceramics, and polymers), and polymer bioscaffolds.

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.

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

This equipment determines variations of sample weight in relation to temperature in a controlled atmosphere; the corresponding analysis identifies 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

Differential Scanning Calorimeter 823e, Mettler-Toledo

This instrument measures heat transfer. The unique sensor design results in a combination of performance features such as flat baselines, high sensitivity, and excellent peak resolution.

Instruments for Nanomaterial Synthesis and Functionalization

Advanced Deposition Chamber (Custom in-house built)

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. This equipment enables the deposition of materials using three techniques: electron beam vapor deposition, effusion cell thermal evaporation, and sputtering.

Matrix-Assisted Pulsed Laser Evaporation (Custom in-house built)

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.

Pulsed Laser Deposition System (Custom in-house built)

This system is a thin film deposition technique where 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 System (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.

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.

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 his 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.

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 (Custom in-house built)

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 Measurements 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.

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.

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

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

Biological Instrumentation

Ultracentrifuge, Thermo Scientific (Sorval, l RC 6+)

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

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.

Hybrid Multi-Mode Microplate Reader (Synergy, H1)

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.

In order to utilize this equipment, researchers must be trained and certified by authorized CINS personnel. For more information, please visit 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.

Free Imaging Analysis/Processing Software Resources

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