Mechanical Engineering


Advanced Characterisation Laboratories for Materials & Manufacturing (ACLMM)

The ACLMM serves as an all-in-one facility for all things materials testing, characterisation and microscopy.

UCL Mechanical Engineering's Advanced Characterisation Laboratory for Materials & Manufacturing (ACLMM) brings together materials testing, materials characterisation and microscopy under one roof. Based in the sub-basement of Roberts Engineering Building, the combined facility is paired with a sample preparation room that offers chemical needs and provides a dedicated space for preparing samples prior to conducting tests and analysis.

Microscopy Suite

The recent introduction of the new Microscopy imaging suite brought in a range of equipment tailored for research and educational purposes.

The suite offers two Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEMs) – the Gemini 360 and Evo 10, both equipped with unique additional features. For X-ray imaging, the Nikon Micro-CT is available, complemented by the CT Pro 3D software for reconstruction and Avizo for subsequent data post-processing.

Photo of the ACLMM Microscopy suite

View details the equipment available in the ACLMM below:

Photo of the ACLMM ZEISS SEM Gemini

ZEISS SEM Gemini 360

The Gemini, functioning as a field emission electron microscope, boasts a remarkable image resolution of 1nm. Its primary capability lies in capturing detailed surface topography and morphology of dry samples down to the nanoscale.

With a versatile beam energy range spanning from 30kV to sub-1kV, the microscope facilitates the characterisation of sensitive samples. The chamber can be optionally equipped with the Deben micro-testing fixture, allowing for in-situ mechanical testing. A variety of detectors, including Inlens, SE, C2D, BSE, ESB, EBSD and EDX, are available for comprehensive analysis.

Photo of the ACLMM ZEISS SEM EVO 10


The EVO, fitted with an environmental chamber, enables the observation of samples in their hydrated state, attracting considerable interests in studies around water sublimation and life science. Operating in HP, VP or EP modes, the EVO offers flexibility, and an optional Deben Coolstage allows temperature variations between 50°C and –25°C, extending to even lower temperatures at high vacuums.

The EVO is equipped with SE, C2DX and HDBSD detectors that can view images of coated and uncoated samples. Utilising a tungsten source with an EHT range from 0.2 to 30kV, images can be observed at the nanometre scale. Its versatility is highlighted by its 9-specimen sample holder and a range of apertures for exploration. 

Photo of the ACLMM Micro CT

NIKON Micro-CT XT H 225

Micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) stands as a non-destructive imaging technique facilitating the rapid visualisation of both internal and external structures of samples in three dimensions. Its applications span a wide range of fields from biology, geology and engineering. The CT offers a maximum beam energy of 225kV in either reflection or transmission modes and is supplemented with four target material options (W, Cu, Ag, and Mo).

A resolution of 1-micron spot size can be achieved through optimised parameters. It supports sample sizes up to 20 x 20 x 20cm and 15kg and provides versatility with filters Al, Ag, Cu and Sn of different thicknesses. Additionally, a Deben micro-test setup is available for conducting in-situ mechanical testing during an X-ray scan.

Photo of the ACLMM Keyence light microscope

KEYENCE VHX-7000 3D Light microscope

The Keyence microscope utilises visible light in both reflective and transmitted modes to generate a real-time image of the sample's surface on a monitor at the micron scale.

With the ability to observe the microstructural detail of samples with 4 different magnification lenses ranging from 20x to 6000x. Additional features include the use of 3D stitching and surface roughness analysis.  

Photo of the ACLMM DMA 850

DMA 850 – Dynamic Mechanical Analysis

The DMA studies the mechanical properties of materials in relation to temperature, time and frequency under dynamic conditions.

Operating in temperatures within -160°C to 600°C, the DMA can measure forces as low as 0.1mN and achieve oscillation displacements as small as 5nm. Its versatility allows for conducting tests in different modes such as tension, compression, 3-point bend, and shear. 

Photo of the ACLMM TGA SDT650

TGA SDT650 – Thermogravimetric Analysis

The TGA actively measures mass change in a sample to examine the thermal stability and behaviour of materials as a function of temperature or time. Temperatures can be controlled to either increase or be held isothermally between ambient temperatures to 1500°C.

Phot of the ACLMM DSC 3+

DSC 3+ – Differential Scanning Calorimetry

The DSC is a thermal analytical method employed to quantify the heat flow into or out of a sample as a function of temperature or time. This technique is valuable for investigating the thermal transitions in materials, including glass transition temperature (Tg), crystallisation temperature (Tc) and melting temperature (Tm).

Equipped with an Intracooler, it can cover a temperature spectrum from - 100 °C to 700 °C and can rapidly return to ambient temperatures.

Photo of the ACLMM FITAR

FTIR/ATR Nicolet iS50 - Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy

The FTIR is a materials analysis technique used to study the molecular and chemical composition of substances by acquiring a spectrum across defined wavelength limits, most commonly through either transmittance or absorbance via the OMNIC software.

The built-in ATR can support samples such as liquid, powder and solids. 

Photo of the ACLMM Intron Electroplus

INTRON Electropuls E3000 & Instron 5969 & 5985

Each of the three Introns has the capability to conduct static testing in both tension and compression modes, with the option to integrate DIC (Digital Image Correlation) instruments for strain analysis.

The Electopuls E3000 is our newest system, designed for both dynamic and static testing, with load capacity of up to 3 kN. The Instron 5969 model supports loadcells of 500 N and 50 kN, while the 5985 model offers versatility with load capacities of 500 N, 10 kN and 250 kN. Additionally, the 5985 model comes equipped with a temperature-controlled furnace and a liquid nitrogen inlet.

Photo of the ACLMM QNESS

QATM QNESS Q60A+ EVO Micro Hardness Indenter

The Micro-Hardness equipment is a user-friendly piece of equipment that utilises a diamond-tipped indenter to perform destructive hardness tests and generate hardness data effortlessly with a simple button click.

A force of 0.25kg to 62.5kg can be applied through the tip. The automated functionality allows the tool to quickly switch to the magnified lens for imaging the indented surface for further processing of the acquired data.