Vanderbilt Materials Durability and Environmental Research Facilities Hub

Overview of Services

The Materials Durability and Environmental Research Facilities Hub (MDERFH) supports research on the performance and durability of natural and engineered materials and systems exposed to a wide range of environmental conditions. A key component of the hub is the availability of research facilities that provide unique analytical services to the Vanderbilt community, as well as external academic and industry partners, through the hub's Core. Core operations are centralized in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Vanderbilt University, and characterization techniques offered through MDERFH's Core include microscopy, spectroscopy, chromatography, crystallography, tribology, metrology, and micromechanics. The Core's instrumentation includes both user-run instruments, which require staff-led training prior to use, as well as staff-run instruments, where users will submit their samples directly to the Core. Staff-assisted sessions are available to users for an additional fee on all user-run instrumentation. The Leaching Environmental Assessment Framework (LEAF) Methods, a leaching evaluation system from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is also available through the Core.

Services Offered

Spectroscopy and Chromatography
Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) – Perkin Elmer NexION 2000
Laser ablation system – New Wave NWR213 Laser Ablation System (current configuration is coupled with ICP-MS)
Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES) – Agilent 5110 VDV 
Ion chromatograph (IC) – Metrohm 881 Compact Pro

Environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM) – FEI FEG Quanta 650 with Oxford EDS and EBSD

Mechanical Characterization
Triboindenter – Bruker Hysitron TI980
Microtest stage (2kN) – Gatan MTEST2000EW
Load frame – Tinius Olsen 50kN Electromechanical Load Frame

Thermogravimetric Analyzer (TGA)/Differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) – TA Instruments Q600 SDT
Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOC)/Total inorganic carbon analyzer (TIC) – Shimadzu TOC-L (liquids) and SSM-5000A (solids)

Sample Preparation
Ball mill – Fritsch Pulverisette 6 Planetary Ball Mill
Low-speed diamond saw – Allied TechCut 4 Precision Low Speed Saw
Automated grinder/polisher – Allied Metprep 3 Grinder/Polisher
Vibratory polisher – Pace Giga 1200 Vibratory Polisher

LEAF Methods
Method 1313: Liquid-Solid Partitioning as a Function of Extract pH Using a Parallel Batch Extraction Procedure
Method 1314: Liquid-Solid Partitioning as a Function of Liquid-Solid Ratio for Constituents in Solid Materials Using an Up-Flow Percolation Column Procedure
Method 1315: Mass Transfer Rates of Constituents in Monolithic or Compacted Granular Materials Using a Semi-Dynamic Tank Leaching Procedure
Method 1316: Liquid-Solid Partitioning as a Function of Liquid-Solid Ratio Using a Parallel Batch Extraction Procedure


Florence Sanchez, PhD | Core Director
David Kosson, PhD | Core Director


Location and hours of operation

Hours      Location

Monday -  Friday
9:00 am - 5:00 pm 

     Jacobs Hall 151

Links and Resources

  1. MDERFH Website
  2. Leaching Environmental Assessment Framework (LEAF) Methods


Name Role Phone Email Location
Lesa Brown
Core Manager (Solid Phase Characterization)

Rossane DeLapp
Core Manager (Liquid Phase Characterization)