Waterloo Advanced Technology Lab
http:// www.WATLab.com  or //leung.uwaterloo.ca/WATLab
University of Waterloo - Chemistry 2- 059-066/261 -  Tel: 519-888-4567 ext. 35826
Director - Professor Tong Leung

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What's New
Last Updated
2014-02-27 17:27
Contact us at:   manager @watlab.com  or director @watlab.com
Download a WATLab promo



  24 February 2014 - WATLab to begin TEM/FIB service on March 3 at qnc-Metrology  -  The newly commissioned TEM & FIB will be put online on March 3.  Please contact us for further details.


5 February 2014 - WATLab is extending services into the QNC  -  The LEO 1530 SEM is now back on line, after a new filament install.  We will gradually reinstate SEM operation back in qnc B707.  Please note that due to security concern, all space in qnc Metrology will be monitored online with hidden camera. 


After many years of trying to get a TEM on campus, we have finally succeeded in securing a high-performance 200 kV TEM.   The Zeiss Libra 200 MC has been installed before Christmas and we have been doing extensive machine physics studies on the machine while trying to resolve a number of ongoing issues in the building.   We will be gradually rolling out TEM service.  Our rate will be very competitive compared to similar nearby facilities.







1.  RESERVE no more than TWO hours at a time and not exceeding SIX hours (total) a week.  Please reserve a realistic amount of time for a single time slot and be flexible with your start and end times to minimize gaps.  *** It's more efficient and less expensive for the user to run a few samples at the same time in a single time slot instead of one sample at a time in multiple time slots.

2.  ADVANCED BOOKING:  Not counting the time already reserved in the current week, individual users are allowed to make reservation not exceeding SIX hours (total and NOT per week) in no more than FOUR time slots in all of the coming weeks FOR GROUPS WITH MULTIPLE USERS: Please try NOT to block too many time slots so that other groups could have some access.  *** We will be removing any reservation exceeding TEN hours (total) or 5 time slots (maximum) from a single group.  Ten hours corresponds to one working day. 

3.  WALK-IN:  Please check the Bookit scheduler frequently, as time slots may become available due to schedule changes.  ***Unused time slots designated for Machine Physics and OS (and newly open-up Saturday time slots) will be released usually 24 hours in advance.

4.  CANCEL any reserved time slot at least THREE working days in advance so that other users can have a chance to book the free-up time.  *** Penalties for cancelling less than the 3 working days and for no show will be equivalent to OS service and industrial user rates respectively.

*** Penalty for not starting the session on time, i.e. within 10 minutes of the reserved start time, is OS service fee and loss of the reserved slot.

***No dirty hands, no food or no drink are allowed in the Lab during operation of the SEM.
***Penalty for spot-trading and letting uncertified users operate the machine is banishment.  Zero tolerance.


SEM FAQ-1:  How tight should the stub be tightened?  The machine shop has fixed the sample holder and now all eight positions work.  The problem was that the hex screw heads have been either all or partially stripped due to heavy tightening.  Please use only two fingers on the screw driver to tighten these screws.  It is NOT necessary to "crank" it down.  "Finger-tight" is enough to make good mechanical contact.  Tightening too much will not improve the SEM image and will only damage the screws and/or the sample stage.

SEM FAQ-2:  When taking the stubs out, please do NOT loosen the screws too much as they may fall off into the turbo pump below, killing everything!  We only need to loosen 1 to 2 turns, enough to take the stub out.

SEM FAQ-3:  Why should we care about how clean our sample is?  The cleanliness of the sample will affect the cleanliness of the chamber, which will in turn affect the performance of the machine.  Clearly any high-vapour pressure materials will not only make the vacuum bad but also coat the expensive EDX window and all the delicate SEM detectors inside, not to mention causing contamination to (and accelerate the death of) the expensive field-emission source and the lens stack.  Once the system is contaminated, there is virtually no way to clean the machine and it will be extremely expensive to do this.  The consequence is that EDX quantification, especially for low Z elements, will be way off and unreliable, and tons of carbon will appear in the SEM image during image acquisition.  Any user who doesn't respect the sample cleanliness rule will be banned from WATLab, as we don't want these users to ruin the machine for everyone.  Never just "think" it's OK to put your sample inside without checking with us first.  An "overconfident" user is the most dangerous one and is high-risk to other users.  Please exercise due caution, and have some respect for the machine and other WATLab users.  When in doubt, please come to ask us.  Please note that Mechanical Engineering Department (Professor Carolyn Hansson's group) has an Environmental SEM, which can accommodate high vapour-pressure materials.  For the FE-SEM in WATLab, we only want to deal with "clean" samples and low-risk users, as WATLab just doesn't have the cash to do any repair.


NEW services Now JN-LINE for high-resolution XRD and optical spectroscopies (UV/Vis, PL, Raman, FTIR).  Please contact us.

Looking for an exciting graduate or undergraduate research project in nanosciences and nanotechnology?  Please contact us at  tong@watlab.com  for further information. 



Chem-2 060 ext 33077


Scanning Electron Microscopy

LEO FESEM 1530 (with EDX/OIM)

To request a user account - Download and complete the following Account Request Form for Academic Users Industrial Users.  For assistance and for the current rates for academic and industrial users, please contact us.

We now offer Operator Service, whereby our specialists will run the samples for the users (with the users present) and/or to train the user to eventually become a certified user.  The time allocated for Operator Service is normally Mon-Wed afternoon and by appointment with our specialist.  Certified users,*** who have been authorized by us to operate the machine on their own, can book the time directly online.  In the event of heavy booking, please allow for 3 working days for cancellation otherwise a penalty of 2 hours of SEM time will be charged.

All users are responsible for preparing their own samples.  For microscopy supplies (Cambridge stubs, double-sided conductive tapes, etc.), please contact SOQUELEC, Marivac, or Ted Pella.

*** To become a certified user, the new users should contact us to arrange for an initial training session (normally offered once a month).  SEM training will consist of watching a 20-minute on-line video about the general principle of SEM and other available facilities in the SEM lab, to be followed by a second hands-on training session (60-90 minutes) on how to operate the machines (at a charge of $50 per user).  New users must then attend a sufficient number (3-5) of Operator Service sessions so that we are confident that the user can handle the standard tasks.   [Download the on-line SEM Training Video Realmedia (38 MB) or Mpeg (172 MB) here.]

Specs and Specimen Stage - Look Inside
res1kv.tif res20kv.tif pb150375stage1.jpg pb150377stage3.jpg pb150376stage2.jpg pb150378stage4.jpg



For other microscopy and structural characterization tools available for Operator Service, please contact us.

Atomic Force Microscopy &

Pacific Nanotechnology
AFM Nano-R

Scanning Probe Microscopy &

Veeco DI Dimension 3100
Nanoscope IV

High Resolution X-ray Diffraction &

PANalytical MRD Xpert Pro 



Chem-2 064 ext 33078

Imaging ESCA Microprobe
(X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy)

VG Scientific ESCALab 250

We are now accepting samples from the users for analysis on a cost-recovery basis.  Unlike the SEM, operation of the Imaging ESCA system is complex and delicate.  Only users with a solid background in UHV techniques will be trained on-site.  At 1.7 times the SEM rate, the service fee for using this unique state-of-the-art Imaging ESCA system has been made very competitive (for both commercial and academic users).  For information regarding the sample preparation requirements and to schedule a run, please contact us.

For XPS data analysis, we use CasaXPS.  To access CasaXPS, download the latest version from www.casaXPS.com .   Then, contact us to get the site-license password for the software (there will be a small fee to share the cost of the site license and we require the user to sign a copyright form).  To get started with CasaXPS, please study their help manual (Note the links: Quick Summary of Features, Converting File Formats (VG Advantage), Frequently Asked Questions, & Background Information to XPS), before contacting one of us.

 XPS Analyser - Look Inside
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Machine Physics
080111: Potential rate meter/slow-scanning problem

E250 Outside "Dizzy" Tour | E250 Behind-the-racks Tour
Test file

For other spectroscopy tools available for both Certified User and Operator Service, please contact us.


  • UV-Visible Spectroscopy: Perkin-Elmer Lambda 35 (with Lapshere integrating sphere optics for reflectance spectroscopy) 

  • Photoluminescence Spectroscopy:  Perkin-Elmer LS55 (with Xe lamp) 

  • Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy: Bruker Tensor 27 (with ATR and AGA optics) 

  • Raman Spectroscopy and Microscopy: Bruker Senterra Confocal Microscope (with 532 nm & 785 nm lasers) 



Chem-2 066 ext 36827


Tools being developed for general user service - more to come...

  • Electrodeposition & Quartz Crystal Microbalance

  • Monolayer films by Langmuir Blodgett Trough

  • Chemical Vapour Deposition

  • Pulsed Laser Deposition

  • Organic and Metal Molecular Beam Expitaxy

  • Ultrahigh Vacuum Surface Science Systems for TPD, XPS, IRAS, LEED/AES Studies Chem-2 061 ext 35827

  • Chemical Physics & Computer Modelling Chem-2 261 ext 35092

  • TEM Lab in Physics Phys 115 ext 33807


WATLab NEWS Archive

13 December 2013 - WATLab is scheduled to shut down for the Christmas break  on 20 Dec 2013 noon - WATLab had an interesting year, with much of tool installation (including the TEM and FIB at qnc Metrology) now behind us.  We will soon in the new year begin putting some of these tools online.  In the meantime, WATLab wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday, and all the best for 2014.



1 November 2013 - SEM Status Update- Both the LEO and Ultra have been down for the past several weeks due to various failure.  We now have an service engineer on site to resolve these issues.  If all goes well, we hope to put at least one of the systems back in service very soon.


18 September 2013 Internet policy in WATLab - After taking the LEO back online for just 2 weeks or so, we observed some unusual behaviour with LEO's User PC.  This could be a hidden virus and we are investigating...

From now on, NO user is allowed to use any of the WATLab's PCs to connect to the web.  If a user gets caught in doing this, he/she will be denied access permanently!  I think it is of interest to all users to try to keep WATLab's computers clean b/c if one user starts to import virus onto a WATLab's computer, it will spread to all the PCs of our entire user base.  This is not good for us or for all of our users.   I suggest all users to bring their own laptops and use the wifi.  Again, no activity other than data transfer is allowed on any of the WATLab's computers.  Zero tolerance. 

Very soon... we will bolt down the usb key security issue.  If you are not sure how clean your usb key is, please ask us and we will provide  a free blank CD to burn your data.   USB key is now the most vulnerable security risk in our entire data transfer protocol.  Thank you.


6 September 2013 Ultra stage broken - A user dropped the sample holder onto the stage, which broke the Y motion drive, rendering the entire SEM useless.  The UltraPlus SEM will be down until further notice.  This will be an expensive repair. 

As a temporary measure, we are reactivating the relocated LEO service (now with EDX support) - EBL feature will take a little bit longer.  

Please note that for safety reason, we will be remotely monitoring the activity in the qnc B707 via an IP camera from C2.  The live feed will be password protected and will not be recorded.  This setup will allow us to run to rescue the user quickly (from C2), should some accident occurs.


 5 July 2013 qNC metrology tool deployment update - After much anticipation and delays, we finally have power and the essential services in the qNC Metrology Lab.  At last, we are in a position to begin tool deployment.  We expect that the environmental conditions to be far from ideal and not to spec as there continue to be some issues with various support systems in the building.  We are trying to work out these bugs with the renno folks.

If all goes well, we are hoping that the SEM, FIB, SAXS, XRD (new powder XRD tool), and SQUID will be online by mid August, at which time we will begin commissioning of the TEM.  The TEM installation is a big job as there will be new optics and new EDX detector installed on site.  The AFM and optical microscope fleet are expected to be online by late September (once the renno for the respective labs are ready).

In the meantime, we are business as usual here at WATlab.  Have a nice summer and happy data mining!  


31 May 2013 - Just one day after the Shops have rebuilt the sample holder for the Ultra, it has been destroyed!  We are extremely unhappy about this.  There are now some users with a heavy hand among us and they are destroying everything.  I'm going to conduct on-the-spot random testing of all the users.  Careless users will have the access privilege of himself/herself and members of his/her entire group suspended immediately.  A sample holder costs about $10k from Zeiss.  We just could not collect enough user fees to pay for this type of careless use from one or a few bad users.


The hood for sample preparation and the SEM bench area are becoming quite untidy with carbon tape and dirty gloves everywhere.  Please clean up the SEM bench area and the hood area after each session (regardless of whether you use it or not).   If we all do this simple tidying-up, everyone's life will be a bit better.  It only takes a minute or two to pick up after oneself.  There will be a cleaning fee equivalent to 1 hr SEM if these areas are left untidy for the next user.


6 April 2013 - WATLab has extended the SEM service for those hard workers (and experienced users!) who want to do data mining on Saturday morning.  Please note that this time slot will be opened as long as I'm on site to open the lab door.  I'll block off time if I don't plan to be on site.  Please check the booking calendar before showing up.  Tong


3 January 2013 - Happy New Year!  May 2013 bring all our users happiness in life and in research.  
We look forward to the installation of the long-awaited TEM (as soon as the renovation is completed in the various labs in the qNC domain).  We have also expanded our nanomachining capability at WATLab - see UW Seal with the smallest feature size of 5 nm - perhaps a world record - written by a helium ion beam.






For more info
contact tong @watlab.com

 Fees Info