Welcome to the Materials Analysis and Research Laboratory


The Materials Analysis and Research Laboratory (MARL) is one of the core instrumentation facilities administered by Iowa State University's Office of Biotechnology. That office is part of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

We are located in rooms 23 through 68 in the basement level of Town Engineering Building at the northwest corner of the Iowa State University campus in Ames, Iowa (campus map).

The laboratory includes equipment for:

Here are some links to the rest of the site:

July 2013
MARL has upgraded equipment for microscopy, thermal analysis, and x-ray fluorescence. Funding was provided by the Iowa State Regents Innovation Fund, the Office of Biotechnology, the College of Engineering, and MARL.

The FEI Quanta  SEM has been upgraded with the addition of a heating stage. It offers dynamic, in-situ analysis of samples over a temperature range from ambient up to 1000C. Software allows for creation of movies showing changes with temperature.

The thermogravimetric analyzer has been replaced with a TA Instruments Discovery TGA system. It is used for measuring weight changes as samples are heated in a controlled atmosphere from ambient up to 1200C. It is a fully automated with a 25-position auto-sampler and a gas-switching/blending module. It also offers automated sample pan piercing while in the selected atmosphere. Off-line analysis software is available for installation on an unlimited number of user computers. 

For x-ray fluorescence, a new, automated sample fusion system from PANalytical has been installed. It permits unattended fusion of one or two samples at temperatures up to 1200C. It also provides in-furnace pouring which allows for the crucible and casting dish to be at the same temperature.


May 2013
MARL has updated the Oxford Instruments Aztec EDS system to version 2.1. It adds capabilities for Auto-Phase in conjunction with x-ray mapping. There is a slight change in appearance of other functions, but not as marked as the upgrade from version 1.0 to 2.0.
April 2013
The FEI SEM has been upgraded with beam deceleration and a concentric backscattered (CBS) electron detector. Beam deceleration allows the use of lower voltages (a few hundred volts) while maintaining image quality. The CBS detector is more sensitive at lower voltages and will replace our split-ring BSE detector for many applications. The concentric rings allow for choosing the energy of the backscattered electrons that are detected especially when using beam deceleration.
December 2011
MARL has purchased and installed an Oxford Instruments Aztec EDS system on the Quanta FEG 250 SEM. This system has an 80 mm2 detector to allow x-ray analysis under lower beam currents (smaller spot sizes) than is normally possible. The system also includes Oxford's Tru-Map software which allows for background removal and deconvolution of overlapping elements. 
November 1, 2011
MARL has instituted a new sample submission form. Users submitting samples for analysis requiring staff assistance will need to submit a form with each set of samples. Users doing work on their own will only need to submit the form once unless their account number changes. 

Users are encouraged to save the form on their own computer so they can fill out and save the basic information. They can update the other information as it changes.


June 2010:
MARL has purchased and installed an FEI Quanta-250 field-emission with high vacuum, variable pressure, and extended vacuum (i.e., environmental) modes of operation. The FEI's stated resolution is just over 1 nm which is a three-fold improvement over MARL's previous JEOL and Hitachi SEMs.

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Laboratory information: Jerry Amenson (515) 294-8752 jamenson@iastate.edu
Web page feedback: Warren Straszheim (515) 294-8187 wesaia@iastate.edu