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Washington State University Institute of Materials Research

The Institute








Positron studies have always been a part of IMR

ruby and sapphire grown at IMR








UV luminescence of 0.1 at% (L) and 2 at% (R) Eu in LiAlO2

CZ pulled Ce:YAG

The Institute of Materials Research (IMR) (formerly, the Center for Materials Research) was established at WSU in 1993 to strengthen interdisciplinary collaboration among various faculty members and to facilitate research and student education in the area of materials science. The IMR is under the joint administration of the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture and the College of Arts and Sciences and has a mission to conduct multi-disciplinary research in materials.

The Institute offers the opportunity for researchers in diverse fields at WSU to connect with funding sources in government and industry to investigate broad challenges across many fields of materials engineering and science and to share resources. The faculty members at the Institute address these research questions with some of today’s most sophisticated scientific equipment.

The IMR focuses on 3 core capabilities (crystal growth, microfabrication, and electronic characterization) that grew out of the need to engineer novel materials for future applications. All aspects from crystal growth and post-processing to characterization are brought together under a single roof. The growth facilities were designed to allow for rapid adaptations to new compositions and doping configurations. In-house post processing and characterization speeds up the cycle from materials design to fabrication and testing to new ideas about the design.

The IMR has unique and world-class facilities in materials synthesis and in characterization, including this high pressure Bridgman crystal growth furnace.

Crystal Growth

IMR has eight crystal growing furnaces that have specific capabilities or employ unique techniques, allowing for growth of bulk semiconductors and scintillators with meting points up to 2000°C. The focus is to produce high purity, highly efficient crystals for radiation detection, high power electronics, solar cells, and other applications. IMR plays a unique role in being able to provide crystals with custom compositions and doping schemes which are not available commercially. The Institute’s strengths are in growths using Modified Vertical Bridgman (MVB), High Pressure Bridgman (HPB), Traveling Heater Method (THM), and Czochralski (CZ) techniques. For the MVB, HPB, and THM techniques in recent years, the focus has been on growing II-VI and III-V materials, most notably Cd(1-x)Znx-Te, CdTe, and CdSe(1-x)Tex. For the Czochralski furnaces, a number of different oxide materials have been grown, but the current focus has moved to radiation hard wide bandgap electronic materials like Ga2O3. In the past, novel scintillator materials (Gd3Ga5O12 and YAG garnets) were grown along with more exotic single-crystals doped with various useful elements for scintillators and lasers. A number of test runs resulted in large gemstone quality rubies.

We are always interested in new collaborations to utilize our unique facilities to grow novel crystals for research and new applications.

Microfabrication Cleanroom

IMR also oversees WSU’s largest Class 1000 microelectronics fabrication cleanroom, which operates as a non-profit service center and is available to academic and industrial users. It is approximately 1000 square feet. The cleanroom houses many pieces of equipment from prototype silicon-based electronics fabrication for up to 4” wafer sizes. Samples and wafers can be plasma or deep-reactive ion etched. Photolithography, sputtering and atomic layer deposition for layer growth, electrode patterning and a number of annealing furnaces are available. The cleanroom is available to students and faculty users and offers an outstanding training opportunity. Graduate student users have come from mechanical engineering, material science engineering, chemical engineering, biological engineering, chemistry, and physics.

Characterization Facilities

IMR stewards two unique characterization facilities which are available to users. The Positron Lab uses a Na-22 source to probe samples for atomic-scale vacancy-type defects. Meso-porosity from atomic scales to 20 nm can be invest.

The nano-CT X-ray microscope lab uses a 5.4 keV Cr X-ray source to allow 50 nm spatial resolution 3D tomography on low atomic number samples. Projects include porous materials such as potentially oil-bearing shale rock, carbon fibers, novel battery and fuel cell structuresigated. The identification of nearest neightbor elements to vacancy sites is possible.

In addition, we have a full suite of facilities for radiation detector characterization, defect spectroscopy, and structural evaluation.

Data Management

IMR has invested a significant amount in centralized servers for both storage capacity and network infrastructure with the intention of ensuring data redundancies while maintaining security and accessibility to its researchers. The preservation of data is tightly integrated into the manner in which IMR accumulates and shares data among its members, to ensure agency compliance and data redundancy. IMR utilizes multiple redundant disk arrays for storage in order to prevent data loss. The system is automated and will shut down if two simultaneous disk failures are detected. A total of seven disks would have to fail in a 24-hour period for permanent data loss, and this has never happened. IMR also has automated service agreements with the manufacturer where the appliance itself sends an email to alert of any failure. The company follows up by shipping a replacement unit overnight within 24-hours. In this way, we maintain the data integrity for our research and our partners.


Over the years we have received extramural funding from many government and private organizations, including:

  • National Science Foundation
  • Department of Energy (including National Nuclear Security Agency)
  • Office of Naval Research
  • Department of Homeland Security (including Domestic Nuclear Detection Office)
  • National Institute of Health
  • National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Pacific Northwest National Lab
  • Livermore National Lab
  • University of Delft, Netherlands
  • Ghent University, Belgium
  • Tandil University, Argentina
  • UCLA, Los Angeles
  • University of Utah, Salt Lake City
  • M. Keck Foundation
  • Dow Chemical Company
  • IBM
  • Intel
  • The Boeing Company
  • Applied Materials
  • Cermet
  • II-VI, Inc.
  • VLOC, Inc.
  • eV Products
  • Honeywell, Inc.
  • Novellus Systems, Inc.
  • Radiation Detection Technologies, Inc.
  • Outermost Technologies
  • Dow Corning
  • Bekaert