Waterloo Advanced Technology Laboratory
http:// www.WATLab.com  or  http://leung.uwaterloo.ca/WATLab
University of Waterloo - Chemistry 2- Rm. 059-066/080/081A -  Tel: 519-888-4567 ext. 35826
Director - Professor Tong Leung


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What's NeXT
Last Updated2019-02-15 17:28
Contact us at: manager or director
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   15 Feb 2019 - No more recycled SEM stubs in the sample prep area  - Some users appear to be recycling old SEM stubs (with other users' samples on them) found in the sample prep hood in C2-060.  As some of these samples could contain poisonous materials and there is also a real likelihood of cross contamination, we are asking all the users to take their own stubs back to their lab after their SEM session and to safely dispose (or recycle) these stubs in their own lab.  As this is a general safety issue for all users, we ask for your kind cooperation.


Users can buy new SEM stubs and new stub storage boxes online from the www.tedpella.com  [look for standard Zeiss SEM stubs - P/N 16111 or 16111-9 (pin mount 12.7 mm x 3.2 mm)].  Alternatively, WATLab does sell a box of 12 stubs (at $30 each kit) on site. Please contact Nina, Lei or Joseph.


  29 Jan 2019 - Calendar  - As we appear to have a backlog on the Ultra, we ask the users to please be respectful of the calendar.  Removing the reservation less than 24 hours will not help other users to use the released time slots.  Please do not reserve the machine unless the sample is actually ready.  Users who have repeatedly disregard the booking rule will be suspended indefinitely. Thank you for your cooperation.


  15 Jan 2019 - New beginning  - By late summer 2019, WATLab would have provided materials analysis independently for almost two decades ago at Waterloo.  We have been fortunate to have opportunities to set up one of the best toolsets for advanced materials research in the world.  Despite the various things going on in 2018, WATLab will continue to serve our loyal users for as long as we could.  At the science/technology level, we are always curious about the work of our users and how the present toolset can be used to advance the goal of our users, i.e. from better data to better publications.  Please contact Nina, Lei and Joseph for more info.


Starting in Feb 2019, we will begin streamlining operation of the quanta FEG in our continued effort to reduce cost.  We ask our quanta users to plan a bit ahead in booking time on the machine.


We take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year and great data mining to come.



 17 Dec 2018 - Happy New Year   - As we survive a difficult 2018, we look forward to a better year to come.  We thank our users for their continued kind support of WATLab and we wish our users a happy and safe holiday and best of luck and success in the Year of the Pig.



How to become a certified SEM user?  Please follow the FAQ link above or here for more details.  Please contact  Nina  to arrange for SEM training and certification.


Why we don't need a lot of sample for SEM analysis? To our users with powder samples, we wish to remind them that one does not really need tons of samples to do SEM.  Powders should be uniformly spread over a 1 mm x 1 mm area (in a layer a few microns thick) and attached securely onto the carbon tape.  We definitely do not need powders spreading over an area larger than 1 mm x 1 mm and/or in a layer thicker than 10 microns.  Here, we should remember: LESS is MORE, b/c:

(a)  A finely focussed electron beam (<10 nm dia.) hitting any sample (especially the "gassy" ones) at high energy will cause local heating/interaction that leads to rapid gas desorption, which will cause the filament (sitting at the EHT voltage) to arc (the filament will not survive above 5x10-9 mB).  Field-emission filament will not be able to handle a lot of arcings like that, which will shorten its lifetime significantly.  So, the less samples that one uses, the more stable is the machine. 

(b)  Powder samples that are too thick (or not securely attached to the carbon tape) will also lead to partial charging.  This is b/c the electron beam typically penetrates a few microns, creating secondary electrons that are finding their way to the carbon tape.  If the sample is too thick, these secondary electrons stay inside the bulk and the sample will charge up, leading to bad images.  

(c)  More samples in the chamber will lead to a poorer vacuum, and it will take a longer time to pump the system down to the acceptable operating vacuum condition.  Less gas in the chamber and less gas desorption from the sample (as induced by the high-energy electron impact) will also improve image quality.




Established with funding support from Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Province of Ontario in 1999, WATLab is the first multidisciplinary materials research centre in Canada's Technology Triangle.  WATLab offers a complete toolset for advanced materials research and emerging technology development.  Most of our instrument systems are state-of-the-art and some are unique in Canada, and they include:

  • all areas of microscopy and diffraction [Zeiss Libra 200MC TEM, Zeiss Leo 1530 and UltraPlus FESEMs (with EDX/OIM), FEI Quanta Feg 250 ESEM (with EDX), Zeiss Orion Plus HIM, Omicron VT-STM, DI D3500 Nanoman and Asylum Cypher and BIO-3D AFMs, Olympus LMs; Zeiss Correlative Microscope; Anton Paar SAXS, PANalytical X'pert Pro MRD HR-XRD and MPD Powder XRD] - Contact Nina  for SEM & XRD, SAXS, & LM; Lei or Joseph for AFM, HIM, FIB & TEM.

  • spectromicroscopy and spectroscopy [VGS ESCALab 250 Imaging ESCA, MicroLab 350 Auger Microprobe, IONTOF SIMS-5, PE LS55 PL, PE Lambda 35 &1050 UV-Vis, Bruker Senterra-2 Raman, Bruker Tensor 27 FTIR, Bruker Hyperion 3000 FTIR Microscope] - Contact Joseph for ESCA & SIMS; Lei for Auger; Nina for correlative spectroscopies

  • bulk characterization [QD Dynacool PPMS, QD SQUID-VSM MPMS] - Contact Joseph;

  • lithography and nanomachining [Nabity and Fibics EBLs, Raith IBL, IMP Xpress Maskless OL, Zeiss Auriga FIB-SEM, DI Nanoman NL, Fibics NPVE] - Contact Joseph or Lei ;

  • wet and dry materials synthesis (all areas); and

  • rapid device prototyping (all areas). 

We offer pay-per-use service for both academic and industrial users at competitive rates, with our expert operators providing sample characterization measurement (and analysis).  For a selected number of tools (e.g. SEM), we also provide training to allow the users to access the tools through a self-serve booking system. 

To submit samples for analysis, please fill in Form A (and Form B for University of Waterloo users) above, and contact the respective technical specialists.  For all other enquiries and guided lab tours, please contact manager .


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