The Research Triangle MRSEC is a member of the Materials Research Facilities Network, a nationwide partnership of the Shared Experimental Facilities (SEFs) supported by the National Science Foundation's Material Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSECs).  The MRFN is designed and operated to provide support to researchers and experimental facilities engaged in the broad area of Materials Research in academic, government and industrial laboratories around the world. 

MRFN's website includes a searchable database of instruments available both within the Triangle and in the larger network.  Click here to access the database.

The Triangle MRSEC operates facilities dedicated to the study and development of the programmed assembly of soft matter. Center affiliates also have access to each of the facilities below at rates posted on the facility's website.




MRSEC Soft Matter Lab

Duke’s MRSEC Soft Matter Lab contains instrumentation for synthesis of colloids and biopolymers and for characterization of their assemblies. These include capacity for synthesis and purification of recombinant biopolymers, microfluidic production of colloids, high throughput production of nanoparticles.

The primary Duke MRSEC research resources are housed in the Fitzpatrick Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering, Medicine and Applied Sciences (FCIEMAS). They include instruments and facilities that enable IRG1, IRG2 and Seed research projects that will be augmented as the Center matures. Instrumentation thus far include an upgraded AFM system, an upgraded contact angle goniometer system, a custom-built surface plasmon resonance system, a tissue culture laboratory, a system for interferometric nanolithography, a facility for expression of recombinant proteins and a temperature programmed multi-well UV/Vis spectroscopy system. The FCIEMAS MRSEC facilities are now fully functional and available to all MRSEC researchers.

A secondary MRSEC resource at Duke is located in the French Family Science Center and includes a wire exploder facility consisting of a 20 F, 20 kV capacitor (storing 8,000 Joules) that, when charged and discharged across a metal or semiconducting wire (typically 0.5 mm in diameter, 70 mm in length), causes the wire to vaporize in a matter of microseconds, leaving behind a high yield of nanoparticles. The chemistry of the nanoparticles can be controlled not only by choosing to explode a wire made from a desired material, but also by the chemical content of the explosion medium, which can be either gas or liquid. With this method, tens of grams of nanoparticles of nearly any desired composition and surface chemistry can be generated in an hour. This capability will allow MRSEC researchers to make assemblies of particles containing nearly any desired composition, and at gram-scale quantities. The wire exploder is currently being upgraded with a new capacitor and instrumentation to enable improved monitoring and control of the explosion process, which will in turn enable greater control over particle sizes.


Shared Materials Instrumentation Facility (SMIF) includes advanced characterization facilities and clean rooms for analysis and fabrication of advanced materials and devices.  In the Fall of 2012, a Small Angle X-Ray Scattering (SAXS) Instrument was added to the facility.

Small Molecule Synthesis Facility

Small Molecule Synthesis Facility provides synthetic organic chemistry capabilities including custom synthesis of linkers, monomers and initiators.



North Carolina Central University


The Center for Biomanufacturing Research Institute & Technology Enterprise (BRITE) is a state-of-the-art facility for biomolecular research, recombinant synthesis, purification and characterization of biopolymers.

In addition to training the world’s next great scientists, BRITE also provides a world-class research facility that allows researchers to conduct studies spanning subjects such as:

  • High Throughput Screening
  • Liquid Handling and Automation
  • Assay Development
  • High-Content Analysis for lead optimization and biological relevance from screening data
  • Synthetic Organic Chemistry
  • Medicinal Chemistry, SAR
  • Protein Production, Proteomics
  • Molecular Biology, Plant Genetics
  • Biosensor Technology


North Carolina State University

NC State Soft Matter Computational Resource

The NC State MRSEC Soft Matter Computational resource is a state of the art high performance computational cluster with quad core processes and distributed memory stationed at NCSU HPC center.

The NC State MRSEC research resources include a new 192 CPU computational cluster; this IBM Blade Center cluster has 16 HS22 nodes and 48 GB of memory per node, plus a Gigabit Ethernet interconnect. The Cluster will be used for multiscale simulation and modeling of the new soft materials that are being developed in IRG1, IRG2 and the Seed research projects. It is installed in the NC State High performance Computing Center and is available to Triangle MRSEC investigators at all institutions.


Analytical Instrumentation Facility (AIF)  is a resource for materials characterization and the development and/or enhancement of of analytical techniques. operated and maintained by professional staff and develops state-of-the-art materials analysis instruments. The professional staff at AIR operates and maintains a number of major analytical instruments (a few listed below), and can provide quality analysis for all who require it. All AIF staff are experienced in the design and implementation of materials characterization experiments. For researchers who want hands on involvement in the analysis process, AIR can train users to: operate facility analytical instrumentation, design efficient analytical experiments, and properly interpret the resulting data. In addition, AIF staff is involved in the enhancement of traditional techniques as well as and development of new analytical techniques in a continuing effort to provide the level of capabilities required by the ever evolving needs of the materials research community. Equipment available at the AIF includes: SEM, TEM, XPS, ION-TOF, and GADDS.


Nanofabrication Facility (NNF) provides users with a broad range of nanofabrication and houses all standard thin film processing tools. The facility occupies a 7400 square feet class 100 and class 1000 cleanroom. The NNF has a full range of micro and nano-fabrication capabilities including: photolithography, reactive ion etching (RIE), deep RIE, low pressure chemical vapor deposition (LPCVD), plasma enhanced CVD, rapid thermal anneal, thermal oxidation, solid source diffusion, thermal and e-beam evaporation, sputtering, chemical mechanical polishing, various wet etching and cleaning processes, along with various characterization tools. Many of the tools are capable of processing on a broad range of substrates such as semiconductor glass, ceramics, and plastics with sizes from small pieces to 6" wafers. 


High Performance Computing (HPC) facility offers a number of high quality services to support materials research with high-end computational hardware and software packages. The HPC is part of an initiative to provide state of the art support for research and academic computing at NC State. HPC provides researchers with entry and medium level high performance research and education computing facilities, consulting support and scientific workflow support.



University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 


Chapel Hill Analytical and Nanofabrication Laboratory (CHANL) houses facilities for materials characterization and a versatile suite of instrumentation for micro and nanofabrication.


Computer Integrated Systems for Microscopy and Manipulation (CISMM) offers custom 3D force microscopy systems; electron, fluorescence and atomic force microscopes; nanoparticle synthesis; and facilities for graphics and virtual reality display. CISMM develops force technologies applicatible over a wide range of modalities, with integrated systems that orchestrate facile instrument control, multimodal imaging and unique high throughput microscopy instrumentation. Complementing this tool set is the development of a wide range of analysis and visualization tools, in the desktop and virtual environments, that can be applied to a variety of scientific domains.

Note: These facilities are individually managed and operated.