17-Zhili Xiao and student at Argonne National Lab-0718-DG-024_850x364

Our research facilities include three x-ray diffractometers, transmission electron microscope, Quantum Design, Model 6000, Physical Property Measurement System, Mossbauer spectroscopy, fume hoods and material synthesis facility.

Computer Labs

Physics students are able to use our cluster of LINUX and UNIX computers. Contact the departmental office or the department's computing system manager to determine what is currently available for use.

Machine Shop & Electronics Shop

Located in La Tourette Hall 1st floor. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences operates and maintains both shops for students, staff, and faculty within the college. The machine shop is equipped with circular and band saws, drill presses, lathes, a milling machine and equipment for bending and cutting sheet metal. Some of these equipment may be available to students. Machine shop personnel can help you with instruction and advice on using the shop equipment. Please contact to the Technical Service Supervisor, Michael Figora, (815) 753-7582, for both Machine shop and Electronics Shop.


Our observatory has a 14 inch diameter telescope on an equatorial mount. Both a CCD camera and film camera are available. 


Located in Faraday Hall, the physics and chemistry libraries at NIU are separate from the main library. The library provides a convenient and quiet place for physics students to study, close to their classes, labs and professors. The library has general and specialist books in physics, as well as the physics journals needed to keep up with the latest discoveries.

Laboratories and Resources

Currently 49 nodes provide total 692 CPU cores (~equivalent of single core processors). From this 634 CPU cores are available primarily for computational tasks (aka to "run jobs") and the remaining are for service or interactive tasks. 38 CPUs (19 nodes) have 32 bit architecture, but the rest can be considered "modern" 64 bit processors. The CPU frequencies are in range of 1.8-2.6GHz.

This lab is equipped with a Blake two-circle x-ray diffractometer with a custom multilayer mirror monochromator. This setup is optimized for x-ray specular reflectivity measurements at the Mo K-alpha edge. The lab also has a Brookhaven Instruments static and dynamic light scattering setup.

The Laboratory for Materials Design at NIU (Dabrowski) consists of four parts: sample preparation, sample synthesis in controlled atmospheres, unique sample synthesis at elevated oxygen pressure, and sample characterization. NIU is also committed to enhance the synthesis capability by purchasing pulsed laser deposition system to grow epitaxial complex oxide films including spin electronic materials and high TC-superconductors. The major components in this laboratory will be available for the proposed research include: controlled atmosphere furnaces (Lindberg 1100, 1200, and 1700 C) using a full range of oxygen pressures (in flowing CO2/CO or H2/Ar gas mixtures, 10-20 atm. < P(O2) < 10-9 atm. (3 MKS 247C flow control Systems); in vacuum 10-9 atm. < P(O2) <10-6 atm. (several vacuum pumps, Balzers, Trbodin, Alcatel); in flowing O2/Ar gas mixtures, 10-6 atm. < P(O2) < 1 atm.) and temperatures to 1700 C. A two gun sputtering system for thin-film deposition of HTSC oxides, magnetic materials and its heterostructures. A unique high oxygen pressure furnace (600 atm. O2 and 1500 C) used for the synthesis of polycrystalline samples and single crystal growth for materials that are unstable under normalconditions (Iso Spectrum Inc.). An annealing furnace (1000 atm. O2 and 600 C) is used to increase the oxygen content to optimize the properties for earlier synthesized samples (High Pressure Equipment Co.). Phase identification and sample purity are checked using x-ray diffraction, including "in situ" study under reactive gas to 1700 C (Rigaku D/Max-2200V x-ray Diffractometer with automatic sample changer ASC - 5). Oxygen content is measured under any reactive gas from room temperature to 1700 C using an ultra sensitive thermogravimetric analysis system (Cahn TG171 with MKS 247C flow control System, Hydrox Purifier Model 8301 and Illinois Instrument 2550 oxygen content analyzer). Stability and phase transitions of synthesized materials are studied using differential thermal analysis and a differential scanning calorimeter (Du Pont Instrument equipped with high-pressure cell). Basic magnetic and transport properties are measured using ac susceptibility/magnetization and dc/ac resistivity measurements from 4 to 400 K in applied magnetic fields up to 7 Tesla (Quantum Design, Model 6000, Physical Property Measurement System susceptometer). Routine resistivity measurements are done in the temperature range 12 - 475 K, using a computer controllable resistivity measurement system (Janis CCS-450 cryostat, CTI Cryogenics).

One (1) Physical property measurement system (Quantum Design, Inc; PPMS-9) with the following measurement options: resistivity, heat capacity, torque, high pressure, horizontal rotator. Three (3) High temperature furnaces: Lindberg 3-zone furnaces (up to 1100ºC); Lindberg 1-zone furnaces (up to 1100ºC); Lindberg box furnaces (up to 1700ºC). One (1) High energy ball milling with the following feature: Equipped with safety interlock system for operator protection; Grinding samples in the 0.2 - 10 gram range or mixing up to 60 mL of sample; Variable-range electronic timer is factory-set for 100-minute range; Grinding and mixing vials available including stainless steel, tungsten carbide. Two (2) Glove boxes (VAC, OMNI-LAB). One (1) Home-built UHV magnetron sputtering system. One (1) Gas sensor test system with the following features:Computer controlled; Hydrogen concentrations: 0.001%-100%; Sample temperatures: -40oC ~ +150oC. One (1) Micromanipulator (REL-4100A Optic Microscope, BK Precision 1686A).

The premier thin epitaxial growth at NIU (Chmaissem) is performed by Pulsed Laser Deposition System with RHEED and combinatorial growth capability. The system is Neocera SYS1 Pulsed Laser Deposition System with Lambda Physik COMPex 201 Laser housed in a clean room at NIU Electrical Engineering Department.

Currently, PI has been planning upgrading JEOL JEM-2010JEOL by adding EELS capability (NSF IMR program, pending). NIU has also committed to build a new sub-eV resolution x-ray emission spectroscopy in a transmission electron microscope. This instrument gives us information about the density-of-states (DOS) of occupied states below Fermi level, which complements information from EELS (DOS of unoccupied states above Fermi level). The laboratory has two dark rooms and sample preparation area with fume hood other than two rooms for TEMs. Current equipments are:

  • The electron microscopy capability at the department is provided by JEM-2010 transmission electron microscope (high resolution configuration) with a thermionic electron gun and a slow-scan CCD camera.
  • TEM sample preparation room is equipped with a fume hood area and TEM sample preparation equipment are a Gatan Tripod polishing system, a Southbay slurry disk cutter, and Zeiss Optical microscope.

More advanced electron microscopy is performed at Argonne National Laboratories and elsewhere.

Piot's lab (FW110) is equipped with a S-band klystron (Thales Electronics: TH2163) module, including a ScandiNova Modulator and OptiTemp Chiller, capable of producing 5.5 MW peak power and 10 kW average at 2.856 GHz with 2 s/1 Hz repetition rate pulses.The lab also has high frequency and high power microwave test equipment, including HP8501C VNA systems of measurable frequency range up to 40 GHz that can be upgraded to 300 GHz with frequency-multipliers. The lab facility also includes a small cleanroom and acoustic chamber room.

This laboratory is used for our educator licensure program.

The NIU physics department has fully equipped machine shop and electronics shop facilities. A glassblower is also available in the chemistry department located in the same building. The electrical engineering department maintains a class 100 cleanroom to which physics faculty and students have access.

Physics Instructional Lab - Our Primary Goal on Physics Education is to Provide Students Lab Experiences on NIU Physics Courses, in Particular PHYS 374, 430, 530, and Faculty Technical Supports on Optical Experiments and Beyond.