The Brockhouse Institute has historically created, developed, and supported a number or research facilities at McMaster that have become successful independent entities. The most recent of these partner facilities to have become independent is the Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy (CCEM). Support of these facilities remains a priority for the institute, and we will work toward expanding their user base, developing additional capabilities, and supporting collaborative work using the available infrastructure, both internally and with external partners.
The institute currently houses and operates several facilities that help support materials research, infrastructure, and operations at McMaster. These include the Thermal Analysis Facility, the Cryogenics Facility, the McMaster Analytical X-ray Diffraction Facility (MAX), and the Centre for Crystal Growth.
Thermal Analysis Facility
The behaviour of materials at high temperatures is critically important to their potential applications. The tempartures at which thermal phase transitions occur can guide the use of particular materials within products that range from coffee cups to heat shields in the aerospace industry. Our thermal analysis facility houses state-of-the-art thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) equipment capable of determining decomposition temperatures of polymers, metals, and alloys, as well as phase transitions in plastics and numerous composites. This facility houses a Netzsch 449 F3 Jupiter HV-STA system equipped with two furnaces, capable of TGA-DTA-DSC measurements in the -150-1600°C temperature range and a range of different atmospheres. This instrument also has the ability to accurately measure specific heat capacity of a wide range of materials.
The electronic and magnetic properties of materials are often key to their characterization and application. The electronic/magnetic characterization facility operates a Quantum Design SQUID magnetometer with capability of measurements between 1.8 and 800K and magnetic fields up to 5T. It also operates a Quantum Design PPMS and Oxford Instruments Maglab system with capabilities for measuring AC susceptibility, specific heat and electrical transport between 1.5K and 400K in magnetic fields up to 9T. In addition, facility also operates a He liquefier for the Institute, which provides the required liquid He to the SQUID systems as well as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) equipment in individual labs and the McMaster NMR Facility.
Centre for Crystal Growth (CCG)
The BIMR is home to Canada’s most extensive suite of infrastructure dedicated to the crystal growth of new and existing materials, the Centre for Crystal Growth (CCG). The CCG houses several large crystal growth furnaces that are optimized for the growth of different types of crystals. However, crucial to the success of the CCG is the fact that supporting sample preparation and characterization infrastructure is also present, where it is used to prepare the starting materials required for crystal growth, to anneal or post-anneal materials at intermediate stages in the crystal growth process, and characterization infrastructure which allows the crystal grower to assess which phases of crystalline materials are being produced, and what the nature of the impurities are in the growth process. A successful program of crystal growth is a multistep process that alternates between sample preparation, sample characterization, and single crystal growth and iterates on itself until the desired large and pristine single crystal of a new material is achieved.