CLIMB: The Core Lab In My Basement

Includes resources focused on imaging, metrology, and advanced manufacturing.


One challenge in manufacturing micro-scale parts is simply seeing, measuring, and manipulating them. CLIMB includes a comprehensive set of instruments and capabilities to support micro-scale work.

Microscopes include a Leica laser scanning confocal microscope and a Zeiss inverted scope for fluorescent and phase contrast imaging. The scopes are equipped with Diagnostic Instruments, Micrometrics, and Nikon digital cameras. Electronic measurement equipment from Heidenhain and Tesa including LVDT probes with 0.02 micron resolution is calibrated against lab-grade surface plate, angle references, and gage blocks.

Imaging is important for quantitatively evaluating the effectiveness of manufacturing techniques as well as producing materials for training, marketing, and building the Maker MEMS community. Both still imaging and video production tools are available.


Optical metrology, when necessary, is a manual process for us using 1/20 wave optical flats and a monochromatic helium light source. We strive to keep NIST-traceable calibration of all critical equipment and are ready to pursue 17025 certification if and when it becomes commercially advantageous.

Advanced Manufacturing

I'm building a maskless lithography system on my optical bench, which includes an optical breadboard and supporting instruments including a Newport optical power meter, Ocean Optics spectrometer, and a large stock of optics and optical mounts.

The RF test bench has dummy loads and power meters for up to 1kw. Instruments include scalar and vector network analyzers, frequency counter, and a range of RF generators up to 18GHz. These are complemented by an electronics bench with tools for SMT rework and circuit board construction.

The wafer preparation area has a wafer dicing saw, diamond surface grinder for thinning wafers, and a muffle furnace for heat treatment and oxide layer growth.

CLIMB includes an extensive stock of vacuum fittings, gages, valves, and pumps including three turbo-molecular pumps and spare backing pumps.