Nanomechanics and Materials Research Lab

Faculty Researchers Location Phone Website
Ioannis Chasiotis 6N, 18E, 19 and 206G Talbot Lab    

The Nanomechanics and Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign houses advanced microscopy (AFM, confocal laser, high resolution optical microscopes), micromechanics instrumentation, high speed cameras, and microfabrication tools (e-beam deposition, electrospinning, etc.) for the study of the mechanical behavior of materials at small length scales. NMRL focuses on the micro and nanoscale mechanical behavior of materials and the associated mechanisms of deformation that make metal, ceramic, and polymeric films and fibers, nanostructured materials, and nanoscale structures stronger and tougher. A key objective of our research is to establish relationships between the material properties, the microstructure, and the synthesis and manufacturing processes. A variety of micro and nanoscale experimental methods have been developed at NMRL to resolve nanoscale temporal and full-field material deformations by using Atomic Force Microscopes, high resolution optical microscopes, high speed cameras, or MEMS devices to test nanometer-scale fibers and nanometer-thin films. Work at NMRL has been funded by the AFOSR, NSF, ARMY, ARO, DARPA, ONR, NIH, NASA and our industrial partners. More information about the research conducted at NMRL, its researchers, and publications can be found at


Facility and Equipment Description

Optical, Confocal Laser & Atomic Force Microscopy Instrumentation

The lab has 3 high resolution optical microscopes from Olympus imaging, and an Olympus LEXT Confocal Laser Microscope (figure) with up to 600× optical magnification, that are outfitted with thin film and small scale specimen loading stages for submicron scale experimentation with micron and submicron sized thin films, fibers and nanofibers. The three optical microscopes allow for fast image acquisition (100,000 fps with a Redlake Motion Pro CCD camera and 2,000,000 fps with a Photron SA-Z camera) and up to 1000× magnification with long working distance apochromatic objectives. They are also outfitted with regular CCD cameras with 2560×2048 pixel resolution.

Optical, Confocal Laser & Atomic Force Microscopy
Optical, Confocal Laser & Atomic Force Microscopy

The laboratories for Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) include two systems with capabilities for dimensional metrology, contact, non-contact and intermittent AFM, phase imaging, force modulation AFM, scanning thermal microscopy, scanning electric potential microscopy, magnetic force microscopy, nanolithography, etc. Both systems have closed-loop hardware linearization to correct for scanner non-linearities. AFM scanner heads for 100×100 microns, 80×80 microns, and 10×10 microns scan sizes are available. The AFMs are enclosed in acoustic isolation chambers to eliminate temperature fluctuations and are staged on air-suspended optical tables with active dumping. Three custom-made piezoelectrically driven and computer controlled microscale testing apparatuses that have been designed for in situ specimen loading and surface imaging via AFM and resolution optical microscopes are available.

Nanomechanical Fiber/wire Testing System

The lab has MEMS-based nanofiber/nanowire mechanical testing platform designed to be used with the lab’s high fidelity optical microscopes and the Confocal Laser Microscope and fast image acquisition (up to 2,000,000 fps).

Glancing Angle Deposition (GLAD) system

An electron beam Glancing Angle Deposition (GLAD) system (figure) with capability for up to 6” wafers is available to fabricate nanosculpted films comprised of metals or ceramics.

electron beam Glancing Angle Deposition
electron beam Glancing Angle Deposition