Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search

You are here Facilities > Characterisation


There is a wide range of surface characterisation/analysis and material modification/patterning techniques available within CRANN:

Cryogenic STM AFM

Cryogenic Ultra-High Vacuum [UHV] Scanning Tunnelling Microscope [STM] with Atomic Force Microscope [AFM]

  • Atomic scale microscopy and spectroscopy at 5K and 77K.
  • Scan range 1.5um x 1.5um x 0.3um at 5K.
  • Lateral drift < 10pm
  • Vertical drift < 0.1pm
  • Minimum tunnelling current 2pA
  • Q-plus sensors with RF 23 kHz, min. amplitude 0.02pm,Q 70000, and k 18000 N/m.

Atomic Force Microscope [AFM]

Can measure angstrom-scale surface roughness

The Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) is a scanning probe microscope, i.e. an extremely sharp tip at the end of a cantilever which scans over the surface and by ‘feeling the surface’ records its topography. It can be used in liquid (biological samples, electro-chemistry) and the tip can be coated with different materials in order to probe a wide range of physical properties. AFM can measure angstrom-scale surface roughness. It is an exceptionally versatile tool and can be used in multiple industries, for example determining manufacturing defects on coated stents and other biomedical surfaces, correlating surface roughness to adhesion and measuring patterned shapes.


Vertical resolution of less than 1 nm.
Scanning range = 80 μm.
Nanolithography available.
Heating fluid cell, temperature up to 80°C.

Panalytical X'Pert Pro X-ray Diffractometer

Can be used for both thin film as well as powder analysis.

The PANalytical theta-theta diffractometer has interchangeable sample stages and can be used for both thin film as well as powder analysis. For thin film applications the user can choose between a flat plate remote-controlled X, Y, Z, phi, chi stage and an open Eulerian cradle with manual Z-motion. A spinner stage is available for powder samples.

Technical Specifications

  • Primary optics:  programmable divergence slit, soller slits and a beam mask to reduce the beam footprint for small samples
  • Secondary optics:  point detector with automatic beam attenuation, programmable receiving and anti-scatter slits and a single-bounce monochromator, and an X'elerator 1D detector
  • Typical applications: X-ray reflectivity, thin film powder scans, powders
  • Software: WINGIXA & X'Pert Pro Analysis Suite

Contact : Karsten Rode, email: rodek AT

Bruker D8 Discovery X-Ray Diffractometer

Technical Specifications

  • Primary optics: single bounce Goebel mirror, double bounce Ge (220) asymmetric channel cut crystal, or Goebel mirror only (w/ automatic attenuator).
  • Secondary optics: Standard point detector with automatic anti scatter slits or a 1D LynxEye detector allowing for fast 2theta scans.
  • Typical applications: X-ray reflectivity, Reciprocal space maps (RSM), powder scans
  • Software: EVA, TOPAS, LEPTOS.

Contact : Karsten Rode, email: rodek AT

Siemens D500 X-ray Diffractometer [XRD]

Excellent signal to noise ratio for bulk and powder materials

Lacking the advanced features of the two preceding diffractometers, the Siemens D500 provides excellent signal to noise ratio for bulk and powder materials. Furthermore, this diffractometer is available to both students and staff form School of Physics, Chemistry, Pharmacy and obviously CRANN after an initial one-hour training session. As the Siemens shares raw file format with the BRUKER D8, all the software relative to analysis available for the BRUKER are also available for the D500.

Technical Specifications

  • Primary optics:                 Divergence slits, soller slits
  • Secondary optics:            Anti scatter slits, receiving slits
  • Typical applications:        Powder scans
  • Software:                            EVA, TOPAS, LEPTOS

Nano Instruments Nanoindenter XP

Nanoindentation involves the study and characterisation of materials by driving a tip, usually made of diamond, into the specimen surface. Data such as the load and displacement of the tip into the surface is then used to understand material properties. Our system is load controlled using traceable weights and the displacement is measured with laser interferometry. We have an additional high resolution module known as a DCM (Dynamic Control Module).

Technical Specifications

XP Module DCM
Load Resolution 50nN 1nN
Temperature Range -17 - 100 degrees C
-17 - 100 degrees C
Frequency .01 - 50 Hz .01 - 300 Hz
Displacement Resolution .01 nm* (theoretical) .0002 nm* (theoretical)

*Note: These values were provided by the manufacturer. Realistically, the values would be much higher due to ambient noise. Also, there would be a difference in value from the when the tip is operating in free space and when it is in contact with a sample.