The Cao’s lab features a wide array of facilities for materials synthesis and characterization, which includes floating zone, flux and transport techniques for single crystal growth, and various probes for measurements of structural, transport, magnetic, thermal and dielectric properties. These measurements are often conducted at high magnetic fields (up to 15 Tesla), pressures (up to 40 kbar) and low temperatures (down to 0.05 K). The following details the capability of the Cao’s lab for materials synthesis and characterization.     

lab overview

Laboratory in G223 and G318, Duane Physics


I. Materials Synthesis and Structural Characterization 

  • NEC optical floating zone furnace (up to 2200 oC) with pressure and vacuum control for single crystal growth.
  • A large array of Lindberg box, tube, crucible and zone furnaces for high-temperature (up to 1700 oC) materials synthesis including flux growth of single crystals and crystal annealing in different atmospheres.
  • Single-crystal synthesis at magnetic fields
  • Hitachi/Oxford MT 3300 SEM and EDX
  • Bruker ECO QUEST single-crystal x-ray diffractometer with a cold stage of 80 K-400 K; Structural studies as a function of electrical current
  • Single-crystal x-ray diffraction at high pressures 
  • Rigaku MiniFlex 600 powder x-ray diffractometer
  • Olympus polarizing microscope
  • Various microscopes
  • Turbo pump

II. Materials Characterization

  • Oxford 15 T magnet with 3He and 4He temperature inserts capable of transport, magnetic, heat capacity and dielectric measurements for 300mK < T <  350 K and up to 15 T.
  • Quantum Design SQUID Magnetometer 7T XL (MPMS) with an added transport probe capable of magnetic (DC and AC) and transport measurements for 1.7 < T < 400 K and up to 7 T.
  • Quantum Design Dynacool Physical Property Measurement System (Dynacool PPMS) with a dilution refrigerator, 50 mK < T < 1000 K and up to 14 T, which provides capabilities of measurements of magnetic, thermal, transport, dielectric and themal expansion properties.
  • Pressure systems for PPMS (32 kbar) and MPMS (40 kbar).
  • Closed cycle cryostat (Advanced Research System) for transport and thermoelectric power measurements capable of continuous temperature sweeping between 9 to 900 K. 
  • Lakeshore AC resistance bridge and Linear Research 700 AC resistance bridge.  
  • QuadTech LCR meter with a frequency range of 10 Hz - 2 MHz.
  • A large array of Keithley meters such as Keithley 2400 and 6220 Sourcemeter, Keithley 2182 and 2182A Nanovoltmeters.
  • Lake Shore 331 temperature controllers.


Floating zone growth

 Optical Floating-Zone Furnace and Snapshot of Crystal Growth

Representative single crystals grown via either floating-zone or flux technique 


Single Crystal X-Ray Diffraction

Bruker Single-Crystal X-Ray Diffractometer with Temperature Control

Diffraction as functions of current and temperature

Newly developed single-crystal diffraction as functions of electrical current and temperature

Powder X-Ray Diffraction

Rigaku Powder X-Ray Diffractometer



Hitachi/Oxford Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and Energy Dispersive X-Ray Analysis (EDX) 


Magnetic Property Measurement Syetem

Quantum Design Magnetic Property Measurement Syetem (MPMS) 



Dynacool Physical Property Measurement System (PPMS)  (0.05 K - 1000 K, 14 T)


pressure cell

Various Pressure Cell for PPMS and MPMS