Institute for Future

Surface science


Our surface science laboratory is part of the Central Analytical Research Facility (CARF). The laboratory houses the only helium ion microscope (HIM) and ultra-high vacuum scanning probe microscope (UHV-SPM) in Queensland.

Surface science is the study of physical and chemical phenomena that occur at the interface of two phases, including solid-liquid interfaces, solid-gas interfaces, solid-vacuum interfaces, and liquid-gas interfaces. Surface science focuses on how materials interact with their environment from an atomic and atomistic perspective, and interrogates phenomena that occur at the nanoscale.

Research applications

  • Creating and characterising novel materials such as graphene, hexagonal boron nitride, and surface-confined polymers.
  • Surface and interface compositional analysis.
  • Nanostructuring and nanoengineering.

Typical projects

  • Studying antibacterial properties of insect wings.
  • Microscopic characterisation of biomedical implant materials.
  • Low cost and scalable growth of 2D materials.
  • Directed growth of conjugated polymers and molecular self-assembly.

Read details

Laboratory manager

Laboratory coordinator

Laboratory team

Organisational unit
Lead unit Institute for Future Environments
Research areas
surface science, scanning probe microscopy, photoelectron spectroscopy, synchrotron radiation, ultrahigh vacuum, thin fims, helium ion microscopy, STM, XPS


Our equipment allows for helium ion microscopy and scanning probe microscopy.

Helium ion microscopy

Instrument Capabilities and features
Zeiss Orion Nanofab Plus Helium ion imaging for extreme resolution and surface sensitivity. Additional neon beam and patterning system for milling features as small as 5nm. Electron flood-gun for charge minimisation when working with insulating samples.

Scanning probe microscopy

Instrument Capabilities and features
Omicron Multiscan Lab Ultra-high Vacuum Variable Termperature Scanning Probe Microscope (UHV VT-STM An ultra-high vacuum system supporting a wide range of surface science and nanotechnology applications. AFM and STM measurements at temperatures from 25 to 600 Kelvin, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), k-cell and e-beam evaporators, argon sputtering, sample preparation and growth at temperatures up to 1000°C.
BMT Multiscan Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) Multiscale imaging, AFM lithography, huge 800 µm scan range.
NT-MDT Solver Pro Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) Wet sample imaging with SMENA head. Multiple imaging modes for both dry and wet samples.

Services and equipment hire

Accessing services and equipment

Our equipment is available to staff, students and external clients at a competitive price with both self-service and full-service options.

Our laboratory provides sample preparation and support to suit your individual preference and budget. Our experienced staff can provide training, advice and guidance on the experimental process and the analysis of results, so that you achieve optimal outcomes.

Contact us to discuss your research needs and collaboration opportunities. To arrange a consultation, please refer to our booking instructions.


Central Analytical Research Facility - Surface science laboratory

  • Level 6, P Block
    Gardens Point
    2 George St
    Brisbane QLD 4000