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The Magnetic Engineering Research Facility (MERF)


This facility is specifically designed for advancing the field of magnetic thin films.   It has many unique features.  With 11 magnetron guns and 6 Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) cells, films of unprecedented complexity may be produced.  Numerous in situ characterization techniques are available including scanning tunneling microscopy, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, Auger electron spectroscopy, ion scattering spectroscopy, low-energy electron diffraction, reflection high-energy electron diffraction, and mass spectrometry.  For in situ magnetic measurements both a superconducting magnet and an electromagnet are available and are equipped for magnetoresistance and magneto-optical Kerr effect measurements.  As such, this facility constitutes the most elaborately instrumented magnetic-thin-film deposition facility in the world. 

For ex situ measurements a Current-In-Plane-Tunneling (CIPT) instrument, a state-of-the-art BH looper, a rapid-thermal-annealing vacuum furnace, and a shielded magnetoelectronic noise testing facility are available.


The capabilities of this in situ instrumentation allow samples to be investigated at every step of fabrication with the most modern surface, interface, and magnetic diagnostics.  Properties that can be investigated include elemental composition, thickness, atomic structure, roughness, and magnetic and magnetoresistive properties.  These capabilities allow researchers to establish the correlations among the film structure and properties and to use the resulting insights to control and improve the properties of device-related materials.

The MERF is open to all qualified U.S. researchers who are interested in collaborative research.  Scientists from industry are particularly encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities for collaborative research of interest to their companies.  Several such collaborations are presently underway.  However, facility time can be made available for new collaborations if the importance of the issues to be investigated warrants it.

Created November 23, 2008, Updated September 21, 2016