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Professional Development

VINSE offers a variety of workshops and short courses each year. Attendance is open to the technical community and is not limited to Vanderbilt or VINSE users.  Email VINSE for any questions about professional development.

List of course offerings:

Atomic Force Microscopy

VINSE Short Course. AFM is an advanced multi-parametric imaging technique. It delivers very high-resolution 3D images of the topography of the sample. It also enables the characterization of the nano-mechanical, nano-electrical, and nano-magnetic properties of the surface. Users will learn about the theory of AFM as well as practical applications, operational tips for many of the various AFM techniques. This course covers applications of the Bruker Dimension Icon AFM for imaging in liquids to access scientifically and technologically interesting solid–liquid interfaces including biological samples. The applications will include biomolecular and biophysical measurements such as force spectroscopy and stiffness measurements. Students will learn about and use many of the ever-growing suite of AFM modes. Various case studies will be explained including those of considerable current interest such as semiconductors, 2D materials, and biomaterials. Several of the case studies will demonstrate how the use of multiple AFM modes can provide a better understanding of materials at the nanoscale than using just one mode alone. Sample preparation techniques and choosing appropriate AFM probes will be demonstrated. The course will also demonstrate the nanomanipulation and nanolithography capabilities of the Dimension Icon, including “writing” techniques in either graphical point-and-click mode, or in a recipe-driven mode in air and liquid.

Summer 2024
Cost – $50 Vanderbilt Users; $50 External Academic and Non-Profit Users; $150 Industry and For-Profit Users

Bruker Online Training. These Bruker sessions provide in-depth detail and instruction on specific "mini-topics". These courses focus on the understanding of common and advanced AFM modes on the Bruker Dimension Icon system. Bruker Online Training

CAD & Printing Services

Need to design a pattern, photomask or 3D object?  VINSE has the CAD software to assist you.  The design PC in pre-gown has AutoCAD and L-Edit available and is free to use for VINSE facility users.  Additionally, VINSE has information and tutorials available for photomask design using these software.  Once your design is complete, contact VINSE to have your photomask printed using our Bungard Filmstar Photoplotter or Heidelberg uPG101 Laser Writer.  3D designs can be printed using our Prusa SL1 or Prusa i3 MK2s printers.

Electron Microscopy

Electron microscopy is a critical component for the characterization of material and biological specimens at the nanoscale. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) both use electron beams to reveal structure, but in very different ways. Although these instruments have been made very accessible with the help of software, users must understand the mechanisms behind image formation to properly interpret their images. This two-day short course will blend accessible lectures with hands-on experience operating both the Zeiss Merlin SEM and the Tecnai Osiris advanced analytical TEM/STEM. After completing this course, users will know how best to operate both instruments to get the most information and achieve the best possible images. Specific techniques include secondary electron vs. backscattered electron imaging, bright field/dark field TEM, STEM and analytical SEM and STEM using energy dispersive spectroscopy. 

Summer 2024
$75 Vanderbilt Users; $75 External Academic and Non-Profit Users; $200 Industry and For-Profit Users


Microelectronic devices are found in an ever-growing number of everyday items such as phones, cars, clothing, and medical products, and ongoing development efforts are aimed to reduce size, increase performance, improve energy efficiency, and integrate into new application areas. The goal of the course is to provide understanding of the fundamental processes used for fabrication and testing of such devices in academia and industry.  The course will consist of lectures and hands-on experiences in the VINSE cleanroom and analytical labs, covering topics of thin film deposition, etching, lithography, and characterization.  Prior knowledge of these technologies is not required by the participants.  By the end of the course, each student will construct and test a simple microelectronic device.

January 4-5, 2024 | REGISTER
$150 Vanderbilt Users; $150 External Academic and Non-Profit Users; $600 Industry and For-Profit Users

Microfluidic Device Fabrication 

Microfluidic devices can enable “labs on chips” that consume less reagents and have faster analysis times than similar experiments performed in a traditional lab environment.  Applications of microfluidic devices include portable sensors for point-of-care analysis, molecular and cell biology studies, and high-throughput multiplexed assays.  This short course will introduce the techniques behind the fabrication of microfluidic devices.  It will be structured to assume no prior knowledge of the technologies by the participants.  It will include an overview of microfabrication and microfluidics, photolithography, soft lithography, polymers, microfluidic device design, and microfluidic device applications.  Students will fabricate a PDMS-glass microfluidic device inside the VINSE cleanroom with sessions broken down into SU-8 mold fabrication, PDMS mixing and pouring, and device cutting, bonding and testing.   

Summer 2024 | Registration opens spring 2024
$150 Vanderbilt Users; $150 External Academic and Non-Profit Users; $600 Industry and For-Profit Users