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MRG Experimental Facilities

Prof. Patrick T. Mather’s laboratories at Syracuse University was established in Fall, 2007, and is undergoing rapid growth, encompassing approximately 2200 square feet of space consolidated on the third floor of Link Hall.


Synthesis and Characterization Lab:

The synthesis laboratory includes glassware based synthesis apparatus to enable standard organic reactions and polymerizations. Vacuum/Inert Lines and associated vacuum pumps and gauges enable reactants and solvents to be transferred and distillated in vacuum, and reactions to be performed under moisture- and oxygen-free conditions. Several vacuum ovens, balances, and a new rotary evaporator support the synthetic efforts in this lab as well.  The molecular weight and molecular weight distribution of the synthesized polymers can be characterized by GPC (Gel Permeation Chromatography) equipped with Waters 2414 Refractive Index Detector and MiniDawn TREOS Light Scattering Detector. Also, both of reactions and products can be monitored and identified  by Prominence UFLC (Ultra-Fast-Liquid-Chromatograph, Shimadzu North America), which provides good repeatability even in small volume sample injection. Additionally, three (and soon to be four thanks to Kelly Burke) incubator shakers (New Brunswick C24) allow study of the behavior of newly synthesized polymers in simulated (in-vitro) body fluid environments.


Thermal Analysis Laboratory:

The Thermal Analysis Laboratory houses state of the art thermal analysis equipments from TA Instruments, Inc. TA Q200 DSC is employed to probe polymeric melting and glass transition temperatures as well as endotherms and exotherms. The machine is equipped with refrigerated cooling enables an overall temperature range of -90oC to 400oC, and the patented modulated DSC technology makes it possible for us to detect weak thermal transitions and melts. MRG has also recently acquired a older, but wiser Perkin Elmer DSC7. Thermal stability and weight loss can be detected by TA Q500 TGA with overall temperature range of ambient to 1000oC. Its temperature and weighting precision can reach 0.1oC and 0.1mg, respectively. TA DMA Q800 provides us advanced mechanical properties measurements for polymer viscoelasticity at temperatures from -150oC to 600oC in precise stress/strain control and measurement. This laboratory is further equipped with the best rotational rheometer commercially available, TA AR-G2, which is the first commercial rheometer with patent pending magnetic thrust bearing technology for ultra-low nano-torque control. This melt rheometer can operate in controlled strain and controlled stress modes, both oscillatory and steady, with shear and elongational deformation geometries possible as well, the latter enabled by an SER platform from Expansion Instruments, Inc. Characterization of polymer thin coating adsorption, desorption, and degradation is made possible with a quartz crystal microbalance, SRS QCM200, also housed in this lab, and outfitted with a flow-through fluid cell. Last but most definetly not least, an extruder/ micro-extruder of the Randcastle variety has been added, and is expected to make an immediate impact on our research here at MRG.


Processing Laboratory :

This laboratory houses a modular and custom Electrospinning Apparatus for the processing of polymeric nanofibers. This apparatus is built around a high voltage power supply (Ultravolt, Inc.) and syringe pump delivery system. Polymer solutions are delivered to a charged fine needle and collected on a grounded rotational steel drum with control over voltage, sample-collector separation distance, volumetric flow rate, and solution viscoelasticity. Additionally, the home-made control device makes it possible to simultaneously control drum rotational and translational speeds.  Additionally, this laboratory is also equipped with a Carver Standard Press (Press No. 3851, Carver Inc.) capable of compression modeling and polymer sheet and film preparation. A fairly recent addition to the MRG laboratory is a Laurell spin coater. This addition to our lab has been clocked at speeds around 6000 rpm, and we're not even using high-preformance fuel!


Microstructural Analysis Laboratory :

The Microstructural Analysis Laboratory includes modern digital light microscopy capabilities built around an Olympus BX-51 polarizing microscope. The microscope is augmented with an Instec HCS402-STC2-A heating/cooling stage and high resolution QICAM FAST-1394 CCD camera. The Instec stage is unique by virtue of heating from both below and above the sample, thereby assuring temperature uniformity. A Linkam ST-350 tensile stage, which can be mounted on the BX-51 polarizing microscope for imaging strain-induced solid polymer microstructures, is also kept in this lab. A custom-built optical microrheometer capable of planar couette fluid flow at elevated temperatures and force measurement is available for mounting on the microscope as well. Additionally, there is a custom spectrographic birefringence apparatus capable of quantitative optical retardance measurements in the range of 50 - 50000 nm that is amenable to in-situ observation with the shear cells and hot stage. Also, be one of the very first to see MRG's Rigaku combined WAXS/SAXS System (S-MAX3000), which includes a FujiFilm FLA7000 reader and a Fujifilm IP Eraser 3 to collect the scattered x-rays. Recently, this laboratory became the proud owners of a Stereo Discovery V8 Stereomicroscope (Carl Zeiss, Inc.) enable higher resolving power, greater contrast, and better 3-D imaging capability compared to current standard instruments. Lest we forget, allow us to bring to your attention our practically flawless Rame-Hart contact-angle analyser.