The infrastructure comprises a combination of equipment for the manufacturing of materials and microsystems and equipment for the characterisation of composition, structure, morphology and a range of physical properties with a focus on the microscale.
The research is aimed at understanding the physical processes governing the performance of materials and microsystems at the smallest relevant scales. Such fundamental knowledge is at the basis of developing and extending materials systems for advancing technology in a truly sustainable way. The application of different techniques is strongly intertwined, where testing conditions (just like realistic application conditions) affect both the microstructure and the resulting properties. The infrastructure enables quantitative scientific research at the core of materials science: the relation between processing conditions and microstructure and the relation between microstructure and properties. Both relations are highly dynamic. The experimental research that is made possible by the infrastructure of the MCMM
Centre forms the basis for the development of physical relations describing micro-processes in materials and systems, enabling prediction of properties and performance, and thus further development of technology.
Manufacturing equipment includes Spark Plasma Sintering for powder-based materials production, Focussed Ion Beam for manufacturing micro-components and samples for micro- and nano-analysis, welding equipment for manufacturing metallic components. The most significant techniques in the latter category are Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing, Laser Beam Welding and a welding robot. In the pyrometallurgical laboratory materials are produced in primary production processes, but the same laboratory, as well as the hydrometallurgical laboratory, is used for recycling processes to produce materials from end-of-life products. Specialized 3D micro/nano-printers are available ranging from 2-photon lithography, picolitre droplet inkjet, to stereolithography, digital light processing and fused deposition modelling. Femto-second laser cutting allows manufacturing 2D precise structures in a wide diversity of materials. Nanoimprint lithography allows precise replication of 2.5D structures.
Characterisation of composition is done by X-Ray Fluorescence, Electron Probe Micro-Analysis, Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy, LECO chemical analyser and surface techniques as Auger Spectroscopy, X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy, Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy and Micro-Raman Spectroscopy. The structure at the microscale is analysed by microscopic techniques, including Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) with Electron BackScatter Diffraction, digital and analogue optical microscopy and Confocal Scanning Laser Microscopy. X-Ray Diffraction is performed at five diffractometers, in which the high resolution allows line-profile analysis for defect characterisation in crystalline structures and specific devices allow in-situ observations of dynamic processes. The microscopic techniques allow quantitative studies of the morphology of materials, metamaterials and devices at the micro- and nano-scale. Spatial imaging is available via reflective holography, digital 3D microscopy and 3D Atomic Force Microscope topography, combined with inverted fluorescence optical microscopy, both in dry and wet samples.
A wide range of physical properties of materials and microsystems can quantitatively be analysed in the MCMM Centre. Different types of properties can be quantified:
• mechanical properties in tensile testing, fatigue testing, thermomechanical fatigue testing, Charpy toughness testing, Gleeble thermomechanical simulation, torsion plastometer, hardness testing at macro- and microscale, nano-testing device in SEM; dynamic characterization by laser Doppler interferometry;
• physical properties in magnetometry, dilatometry, calorimetry;
• corrosion-related properties in electrochemical equipment.