Optical Microscopy & Metallography Facility

Cook Hall, 2008
Facility Director: Derk Joester, MSE
Facility Manager: Carla Shute

This facility is equipped for the metallographic preparation of specimens by producing strain-free surfaces usually examined by optical microscopy. Other applications of mechanically polished specimens involve producing strain-fee (surface) tensile specimens, optically flat electrodes, and flat substrates for subsequent thin-film depositions.
Both transmitted light and reflected light metallographs are available for photomicrography and microstructural characterizations. The Lab Manager is available for consultation and training.


Fourteen microscopes ranging from 6X to 1600X are in the facility. Selected microscopes have brightfield and darkfield modes, and polarized light. 4" X 5" or 35mm camera formats are available for taking photomicrograph as well as digital image capture. A micro hardness tester (loads from 10 grams to 1000 grams with either Knoop or Vickers indentors), and interference microscope, and a hot state (300EC maximum) for viewing optically clear specimens are available. In addition, a "digital" darkroom is available with AV Macintosh, scanner, and dye-sublimation printer capable of photographic quality prints.

Metallographic specimens can be cut with diamond-tipped blades on either a slicer/dicer, low-speed, or high-speed cut-off saw. Samples can be encapsulated in either cold-mount acrylics or phenolic resins. Manual abrading with silicon carbide paper or with variable speed 12" diameter SiC platens can be done in the facility.

Various 8" diameter platens for polishing are available with diamond paste sizes ranging from 30 to 0.1 micrometer. Alumina slurry polishing is also available with sizes from1.0 to 0.05 micrometer. A semi-automatic Buehler Ecomet IV Abrasive and Polishing System is capable of preparing up to eight specimens simultaneously with reproducible parameters of platen speed, pressure, and diamond concentrations. The system is very useful in preparing ceramic specimens due to the higher pressures that can be produced.


The Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) is supported by the National Science Foundation under NSF Award Number DMR-1121262. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Science Foundation.
© 2012 Northwestern University