CFM infrastructure has been envisioned to characterise nanoscale materials with high sensitivity. Thus, CFM headquarters building was built on the basis of sophisticated architectural and engineering solutions to create a unique environment, free of electromagnetic interference and with an ultralow level of vibration. Since the opening of CFM headquarters in 2010, state-of-the-art facilities have been launched progressively, which complete a set of very sophisticated and specialised experimental techniques, ready to give response to the needs in advanced materials characterisation. These needs involve both fundamental research in nanomaterials, as well as specifically targeted systems of interest for Energy and in bio-environments strategic areas. The following equipment and infrastructures are hosted and run at CFM by the different research groups:


The“High Resolution Angle Resolved Photoemission” laboratory is equipped with an Angle Resolved Photoemission Spectroscopy (ARPES) system combined with atomic-resolved microscopy (Scanning Tunnel Microscope, STM). These two techniques can be used either jointly or separately. The ARPES instrument allows achieving ultra-high resolution (0.1 degrees, 5 meV) and can deal with samples at low temperature (20K).


The “Dielectric Spectroscopy” laboratory provides characterisation of dielectric properties of polymer and soft matter samples. The combined use of several types of spectrometers, listed below, allows covering a wide dynamical range of more than 16 orders of magnitude (in frequency and time domain) and different sample environments:

  • Broad-Band Dielectric Spectrometers (BBDS): ALPHA-S & ALPHA-A Novocontrol
  • High-Frequency Dielectric Spectrometer (HFDS): Agilent E4991A RF-Impedance Analyzer
  • Micro-Wave Dielectric Spectrometer (MWDS): Agilent E8361A Microwave Network Analyzer
  • Therahertz Spectrometer (THS): Teraview 3000 spectrometer
  • High-Pressure Dielectric Spectrometer (HPDS): Concept 100 Novocontrol
  • Low-Temperature Dielectric spectrometer (LTDS): ALPHA-A Novocontrol
  • Time-Domain Dielectric Spectrometer (TDDS): Novocontrol
  • Thermally Stimulated Depolarization Currents (TSDC): Novocontrol

In the “Laser Spectroscopy” laboratory, continuous and time-resolved (with nano-pico excitation laser sources) spectroscopies with high spectral resolution in the ultraviolet-visible-infrared (UV-VIS-IR) radiation domains, together with low temperature facilities (2K) are used to characterise the properties of rare-earth materias for lasing. A home-made photoacoustic spectrometer is also available. These facilities are physically located at the Engineering School in Bilbao (out of the CFM main premises in Donostia-San Sebastian).


The “Ultrafast Spectroscopy” laboratory consists of tunable femtosecond sources (with regenerative amplification) in the IR domain with high speed detectors in the picosecond domain (Streak camera), capable of measuring the fluorescence of atoms and ions of technological interest. There is also a multiphoton microscope with time-resolved possibilities to this end. These facilities are physically located at the Engineering School in Bilbao (out of the CFM main premises in Donostia-San Sebastian).


The “Surface Chemistry” laboratory is equipped with techniques that provide samples surface characterisation by means of X Ray Photoemission (XPS), Ultraviolet Photoelectron Spectroscopy (UPS), Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) and Scanning Tunnel Microscope (STM) (either combined or separately), with the required molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) and sample preparation.


The “Surface Magnetism” laboratory hosts equipment for surface characterisation of samples by means of a home-made Magneto Optic Kerr Effect (MOKE, 77-800 K, 0.1 Tesla) and Scanning Tunnel Microscope (STM, Omicron, 70-800K) (combined or separately). The measuring ultra-high vacuum chamber includes Low Energy Electron Diffraction (LEED) and molecular beam epitaxy (MBE).


The “Microscopy” laboratory can characterise polymer and soft matter samples by means of:

  • Optical Confocal Microscopy (Leica TCS SPE DM5500, 120 – 520K)
  • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM, Hitachi TM-3000, 250 – 320 K)
  • Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM, MultiMode V, Veeco, 250 – 470 K)

The “Ultra-Low Temperature Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy” laboratory hosts an Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)/ Scanning Tunnel Microscope (STM) that tunnels current at 1K for characterisation of materials at atomic scale.


The “Nanophotonics” laboratory hosts a scanning confocal time-resolved photoluminescence (TRPL) setup (MicroTime200, PicoQuant) providing single molecule sensitivity and high temporal resolution to measure the decay of quantum dot and molecular emitters. The range of application includes Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging (FLIM), Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS), Forster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET), Fluorescence Lifetime Measurements, and Fluorescence Anisotropy and Intensity Time Traces.


The “Chemistry” laboratory is specialised in synthesis of polymer- and soft-matter based materials, with special focus on nanoparticles and click chemistry. This laboratory can characterise physicochemical properties and stability of supramolecular chemical compounds using the following equipment:

  • Absolute molecular mass distribution meter: Agilent 1200 GPC-SEC Analysis System + Wyatt. Ligth-scattering miniDAWN TREOS and Optilab rEX Refractive Index Detector.
  • Nanoparticle size and z-potential meter: Malvern Zetasizer Nano.
  • Viscometer: Malvern SV-10 Vibro.
  • Surface tension meter: Contact Angle meter OCA 15 EC DataPhysics Instruments GmbH.
  • Liquid/solution density meter: ANTON PAAR, DMA 4500 M model.
  • UV-VIS spectrometer: Agilent 8453A with Peltier thermostated cell holder, T-controller 89090A.
  • Close vessel microwave assisted reactor: CEM Discover SP System (200- 550 K, 0-27 bar).

The “X-Ray” laboratory can provide characterisation of polymer and soft matter samples by means of the following techniques:

  • Small Angle X-Ray Scattering (SAXS): Rigaku PSAXS-L (120 – 520 K) with simultaneous WASX measurements. This equipment is run by a technician with specific training.
  • Wide Angle X-Ray Scattering (WASX): Bruker AXS D8 ADVANCE (120 – 520 K).

In the “Materials Synthesis” laboratory, materials crystal growth is investigated by using home-made Bridgman and Czochralski fournaces.


The “Thermal Analysis” laboratory hosts the following equipment to characterise polymer and soft matter samples:

  • Differential Scanning Calorimetry analysis (DSC): Q2000 TMDSC – TA Instruments (100 – 700 K) and Flash DSC1 – Mettler Toledo (180 – 700 K).
  • Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA): Q500, TA Instruments (290 – 1300 K).
  • Dilatometry (DIL): Zero Friction L75V, Linseis (100 – 800 K) dual push rod version.
  • Pressure-Volume-Temperature (PVT): PVT100, Thermo Haake (200 – 550 K, 200 – 2500 Bar).

The “Mechanical characterisation” laboratory hosts the following equipment to perform rheological analysis in polymer and soft matter samples:

  • ARES-LS2 rheometer – TA Instruments (130 – 800 K) (1mHz – 50 Hz), with simultaneous electric impedance analyser (20Hz – 1MHz).
  • Minimat 200 Rheometrics Scientific (200 – 500 K) miniature material tester.

The “Molecular Spectroscopy” laboratory hosts the following equipment to characterise polymer and soft matter samples by means of molecular spectroscopy:

  • For the molecular spectroscopy in the infrared (IR) domain: FT-IR – JASCO 6300 (130 – 400 K).
  • For the molecular spectroscopy in the terahertz (THz) domain: TPS SPECTRA 3000, TeraView.

In the “Spectroscopy Techniques” laboratory, a Varian Cary50 spectroscopic equipment is used to investigate materials energy transfer and conversion.


The “Computing Centre” consists of two High Performance Computing (HPC) clusters:

  • Oberon cluster (the main CFM HPC cluster) is composed of 174 computing nodes with two Xeon processors and at least 24GB of memory on each node, all of them sharing a high speed-low latency Infiniband connection network, giving a total of around 1936 cores and ~5TB of memory.
  • Nostromo cluster is designed for shared memory – single node calculations. It is composed of 17 AMD Opteron 6300 series computing nodes with 64 cores and 64GB of RAM each node, giving a total of 1088 cores and about 1TB of memory.

These two clusters give service to a variety of computational needs in the centre, mainly to the ab-initio calculation of advanced materials, which is a transverse topic within the centre. Apart from these clusters, there are 11 workstations in order to run specific numerical applications.