Ontario Centre for the Characterisation of Advanced Materials (OCCAM)

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
What the facility does

Advanced materials characterisation. Support for materials research through leading-edge surface and electron microscopy instrumentation, and full-time scientific staff

Areas of expertise

OCCAM is Canada’s foremost national resource for comprehensive leading-edge materials analysis. Unique to Canada and rare internationally, this $20M facility is an interdisciplinary research centre built around state-of-the-art electron microscopy and surface characterisation tools (see below). Operating in a collaborative research mode, OCCAM provides not only access to leading-edge SEM, ETEM, FIB, XPS, SIMS, SAM, AFM, and LEIS infrastructure, but also dedicated full-time scientific research staff.  Adding to OCCAM’s superior capabilities are the facility’s competencies as Canada’s only fully-equipped characterization institute dedicated to analyzing materials in their native and ‘in-use’ environments. Specialized capabilities include: (1) dynamic characterisation, (2) in-situ characterisation, including complementary techniques developed and integrated to allow for multi-metric characterisation, and (3) highly advanced instrument integration and sample handling/preparation. OCCAM is a nexus of advanced materials research across an incredible array of disciplines and provides a fertile environment for collaborative research.

Research services

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), (environmental) transmission electron microscopy (E-TEM), electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS), energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX), electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD), secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS), low energy ion scattering (LEIS), scanning Auger microscopy (SAM), focused ion beam microscopy (FIB), ultraviolet and inverse photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS, iPES), atomic force microscopy (AFM), infrared spectroscopy (IR), profilometry, sample prep. (sectioning, polishing, (cryo) ultramicrotomy, coating)

Sectors of application
  • Aerospace and satellites
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Arts and cultural industries
  • Automotive
  • Chemical industries
  • Clean technology
  • Construction (including building, civil engineering, specialty trades)
  • Consumer durables
  • Consumer non-durables
  • Defence and security industries
  • Energy
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Forestry and forest-based industries
  • Information and communication technologies and media
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
  • Manufacturing and processing
  • Mining, minerals and metals
  • Transportation
  • Utilities

Specialized lab



Electron microscopy lab

Hitachi HF-3300 300 kV Environmental TEM, Gatan EELS, Bruker EDX, integrated gas-handling system

In-situ TEM/STEM/SEM.  Spatially-resolved EELS & EDX.  Nano-diffraction. Real-time dynamic characterisation.


Hitachi S-3500 Variable-Pressure SEM, Oxford EDX, Oxford EBSD

High-resolution imaging (SE, BSE) and analysis (EDX, EBSD) of insulating and conducting materials.


Hitachi NB5000 Dual Column FIB (Ga ion), Bruker EDX (on consignment from Hitachi High Technologies Canada)

Ion milling for analysis/prep/fabrication. High-resolution imaging (SE, BSE, STEM) and analysis (EDX). Micro-sampling.


Hitachi S-4500 Field Emission SEM, Oxford EDX, Oxford EBSD

High resolution imaging (SE, BSE) and analysis (EDX, EBSD).


Hitachi S-5000 Variable-Pressure Field Emission SEM, Bruker EDX

Analytical FE-SEM.  High resolution imaging (SE, BSE) and analysis (EDX).  Beam deceleration (low voltage SEM).


Hitachi IM4000 Benchtop Ion Mill (on consignment from Hitachi High Technologies Canada)

Argon ion milling/sputtering for sample sectioning and flat milling. Cryo-capable.


Hitachi TM3030 Benchtop SEM

Compact, portable, and highly automated medium magnification electron imaging (BSE)

Surface Analysis Lab

ION-TOF ToF-SIMS, gas-cluster ion source, integrated glovebox, heating/cooling, vacuum transfer

Elemental/isotopic and molecular surface-specific characterisation. High resolution imaging/profiling.


ThermoFisher Scientific K-Alpha™ XPS

Quantitative elemental/chemical state characterisation and mapping. High resolution profiling. Flexible sample handling.


ThermoFisher Scientific ThetaProbe XPS, Integrated Sample Preparation Chamber, vacuum transfer

Parallel angle-resolved XPS. Quantitative elemental/chemical state characterisation and mapping. Sample prep options.


ThermoFisher Scientific ESCALAB™ XPS, UV source, glovebox, gas-cluster/monoatomic ion gun, FE e-gun, vac. transfer

Parallel imaging XPS. Quant. elemental/chemical state characterisation, mapping, profiling, electronic structure study.


ULVAC-Physical Electronic 710 SAM, ion gun + vacuum transfer

High resolution quantitative compositional surface characterisation. Nanometer-scale chemical mapping. Depth profiling.


IONTOF Qtac LEIS, high-temperature/high-pressure sample treatment, atomic oxygen/hydrogen source

Top atomic-layer quantitative atomic compositional characterization. Integrated sample preparation and treatment.


Inverse Photoemission Spectrometer

Characterization of the density of unoccupied electronic states between the Fermi level and the vacuum level.


Anasys Instruments nanoIR2 photothermal infrared AFM

Full-featured AFM (e.g. tapping/contact modes, force curves, etc…). Nanoscale infrared spectroscopy and mapping.


KLA-Tencor P-16+ Stylus Profilometer, low-force and large z-range (1mm) capabilities

2D/3D topology characterisation (e.g. roughness, step-height, micro-waviness, etc…).


Leica UC6/FC6 Cryo-Ultramicrotome

High precision material sectioning (e.g. thin sample preparation or high-quality cross-section). Cryo-capable (-185C).


Leica EM TXP Targeted Polishing and Sectioning Tool

Cross-sectioning and polishing of samples for analysis, or subsequent preparation (e.g. microtoming).


Thermionics Vacuum Transfer Suitcase

Portable, battery-powered vacuum system for sample transfer amongst analytical and preparation instrumentation.

  • University of Toronto
  • McMaster University
  • University of Waterloo
  • Western University
  • York University
  • Ryerson University
  • Ontario Institute of Technology
  • Queen’s University
  • Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
  • St. Michael’s Hospital
  • The University of British Columbia
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Calgary
  • Laurentian University
  • Lakehead University
  • State University of New York – Buffalo
  • McGill University
  • Harvard University
  • University du Quebec
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Aston University
  • Trent University
  • University of Arizona
  • New York University
  • University of New Brunswick
  • Prince of Songkla University
  • Shandong Geological Sciences Institute
  • University of Lisbon
  • Indian Institute of Technology
  • Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg
  • Aalborg University



Developing Materials with New Qualities for Health, Energy and the Environment


Tiny Ribbon Cutting For Large New Facility – The Ontario Centre for Characterisation of Advanced Materials


OCCAM: Advancing Research from the Depths of the Ocean to Outer Space


Three Big Ideas from the Opening of U-of-Ts new advanced materials lab