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Facilities & Instrumentation

Facilities of the Department of Physics, Engineering, and Astronomy at Austin Peay State University include: the Materials Fabrication and Characterization Labs; the APSU Observatory; our complete wood and metal shops, fondly known as the Fantasy Factory; and Loki, our dedicated computer cluster.  Detailed descriptions of the facilities and their instruments are below.


makerbotOur engineering lab includes a MakerBot Replicator Z18 Fused Deposition Modeler with camera, a Makerbot Gen 1 3D printer, and two Solidoodle Workbench 3D printers.

The Robert F. Sears Jr. Planetarium is a 30-seat planetarium housed inside a 16-foot dome. The sky projection system uses a Digitarium Gamma digital projector that can display the sky from anywhere on Earth between 100,000 BCE and 100,000 CE. 

observatoryThe APSU Observatory consists of a 0.5m Ritchey-Chretian telescope on a German equatorial mount housed within a 16' dome as well as a storage facility.  The telescope is equipped with a large format imaging camera (Apogee Ulta U16000) with Sloan Digital Sky Survey-ugriz filters. A set of Johnson-Cousins UBVRI-filters and a small set of Balmer-alpha redshifted filters are also available. In addition, the Department is also a member of the WIYN 0.9m Consortium at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. The 0.9m WIYN telescope is equipped with a large format imaging system and several filter sets. APSU gets about 16 nights per year on this system.

Loki, the APSU computing cluster consists of 32 compute nodes (each with 2 quad core Intel Xeon L5420 processors [8 total cores running at 2.50 GHz] and 16 GB of ram [4 nodes have been upgraded to 32 GB]) connected to each other by switched gigabit ethernet.  The nodes are managed by a head node which has 2 quad core Intel Xeon L5420 processors [8 total cores running at 2.50 GHz], 32 GB of ram, and 26 TB of disk space which is shared via NFS with the compute nodes.  Installed software includes NWChem, ECCE, and Gaussian.

 shop facilityFantasy Factory facilities include: lathe, mill, table saw, miter saw, router, mig welder, drill press, and a full suite of hand tools.

furnacePart of the Materials Fabrication Lab, The Glass Preparation Lab includes a SentroTech high-temperature bottom-loading furnace (up to 1700 C working temperature) with a programmable temperature controller.  The lab also includes: an annealing furnace; a low-speed sample-cutting saw; a programmable polishing machine, and other supportive equipment.

thermal evaporatorPart of the Materials Fabrication Lab, this PC controlled (both power and temperature via LabView) stand-alone thermal evaporator is capable of monitoring pressure, power and thickness.  It is capable of co-evaporation or sequential evaporation of metals or organics. Technical specifications: Sample Holder - up to 4”, rotating at 3 RPM; dry scroll pump and turbo molecular pump; base Pressure: 2 x 10-6 Torr; sources - dual crucible evaporator with auto shutters, programmable evaporation route; automatic control of deposition rate and thickness.

laser and opoThis acts as the pump laser for the OPO (below) and can also be used for Pulsed Laser Deposition (the Department also has a vacuum chamber that can be tasked for this purpose). The laser produces pulses at a rate of 10Hz, with pulse energies of 1250 mJ at its fundamental wavelength of 1064 nm. This laser has a short term energy stability of ±2% over time scales of one hour and a long term power drift under 3% over eight hours.  The system also includes an internal water-cooled beam dump.

OPO's are tunable sources of coherent light. An OPO exploits the non-linear behavior of certain crystals when irradiated by an intense light source. When a non-linear crystal is illuminated by an intense pump beam, it will emit two other waves called the idler and signal in a process called three-wave mixing. This PremiScan/400/MB OPO offers a peak signal energy of 120 mJ, a tuning range of 410-2630 nm and line width of 3-7.5 cm-1The system also includes a high-efficiency, angle-tuned, temperature stabilized harmonic generator, a pair of mounted 355 nm dichroic beam splitters and back reflection protection.

PALS systemAcquired through NSF MRI grant DMR-1725188 this ORTEC spectrometer is state-of-the-art picosecond timing system for positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy (PALS) for advanced undergraduate research and characterization of the materials’ void structure at (sub)nanoscale. It is equipped with quick and convenient data acquisition system, adjustable detectors assembly and warrants time resolution of 200 ps or better.

Nick Cottingham at the RamanThis versatile system is used in research and advanced undergraduate projects for micro-Raman spectroscopy of bulk solids, powders, liquids, thin films, and microscale particles (e.g., graphene flakes). It features two swappable laser sources (532 & 633 nm), a fiber-coupled spectrograph (150-mm focal length) with motorized diffraction gratings (150 & 1800 lines/mm), a high-sensitivity cooled CCD detector (1024x100 pixels), Köhler and dark-field illumination in reflection, long-working-distance metallurgical objectives, and XYZ electrostrictive nanopositioners (60-nm resolution) with low hysteresis and drift. The optical spatial resolution is ~2 microns and the Raman spectral resolution is ~1.5 cm^-1. Thanks to its highly customizable modular design, the system can accommodate additional light sources and detectors, a temperature-controlled sample mount, and optical pathways for reflection and transmission measurements.

raman microscopeA high performance Raman spectrometer which is coupled to a research grade optical microscope, allowing both standard optical microscopy and detailed chemical analysis on a single system. Technical specifications: spatial resolution < 1 micron; spectral resolution 1.1-1.8 cm-1 depending on the laser source; spectral range 100-4000 cm-1; two excitation lasers (532 and 785nm). Detector – 1024 pixels, high sensitivity air cooled CCD.

flurologThis FL3-11 system has two single-grating spectrometers in the excitation and emission positions, a T-sample compartment, and a photomultiplier tube (PMT) with a photon counting system, controlled by a computer.  The PMT spectral range is from 250 nm to 800 nm. The steady-state excitation source is a broadband 450 W Xenon lamp with emission from the UV to near-IR. With this excitation source, luminescence emission and excitation spectra from 250 – 800 nm can be measured. This FL3-11 system is also equipped with a Time-Correlated Single-Photon Counting system (TCSPC), including a HORIBA FloroHub station and fixed-wavelength interchangeable pulsed NanoLEDs and SpectraLEDs. Wavelengths of 280, 320, 370, and 390 nm are available from standard optical pulse durations from 200 ps to 2 ns. Lifetime from 200 ps to 10 μs can be measured using this TCSPC and lifetime from 10 μ to 10 ms can be measured operating in the MCS mode using pulsed SpectraLED.

DSCThe NETZSCH DSC-204 F1 determines the temperature and heat flow associated with material transitions as a function of time and temperature. It also provides quantitative and qualitative data on endothermic (heat absorption) and exothermic (heat release) processes of materials during physical transitions that are caused by phase changes, melting, crystallization, oxidation, and other heat-related changes. The instrument allows DSC measurements in 30 oC – 700 oC temperature range. This instrument works in conjunction with a controller (computer) and PROTEUS analysis software to make up a thermal analysis system.

The AvaSpec-ULS2048XL-2-USB2 Dual Channel Ultra-low straylight Fiber Optic Spectrometer with 2048XL pixel CCD detector and 300 lines/mm grating allows spectroscopic analysis in the ultraviolet and visible portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Usable range 200-1100nm, resolution 2.5nm (FWHM). Includes deep UV deuterium-halogen light source, long-life 2000 hrs, 190-2500 nm.