Remote Access
RAIN Logo Remotely Accessible Instruments for Nanotechnology (RAIN) allows students to access and control microscopes, like FESEM-field emission scanning electron microscopes, and analytical tools, like EDS-energy (X-ray) dispersive spectroscopy, to look at nano-sized materials from the ease of classrooms, or even home computers, all across the country. Students control the tools over the Internet in real-time and with the assistance of an experienced engineer at the microscope advising over video conferencing software.
Remote Access Info & Resources
 RAIN News and Events
Winter 2022

Read the latest about RAIN, as published in our Winter 2022 Newsletter! Not subscribed to our newsletter distribution list? Subscribe below.

  Getting Ready for Remote Access
Watch Videos
To get the most out of your remote access session, we suggest that teachers and students learn about the technology used to view things at the nano-scale level. Our recommended videos can be viewed in the classroom, or assigned as homework.

Click below to browse videos.
Complete the Remote Access Request Form
This is where you request a remote test session (if this is your first time running remote access with us) and a live session; select the instruments and topic areas you’d like to focus on; and provide your lab instructor with other important information such as your class' interests and knowledge level.

See below for information on the instruments available and our partners who are running remote access across the country. Once your request has been received, you will get a confirmation from the Remote Access Manager on your selected dattes, times, and instruments.
Run a remote test session
º This is used to check your audio, video, and Internet connections.
º Takes about 20 minutes.
Before you start remote access, you’ll need to:
1. Install Video Conferencing Software
Based on the instrument and partner site you requested, you will need either Zoom or Team Viewer. Both are free to download and use.
2. Set up your computer. You need:
   º Webcam
   º Microphone
   º Speakers
   º A projecter or large display is recommended, but not required
Choose your samples
You can use in house samples or send your own to the remote access site you selected when scheduling your session. Based on your remote access request (step 2), a remote access manager will reach out to you regarding in house sample availability and to provide address information for any samples you wish to mail in.
Run a live session
º This is where you will have live remote access to the lab equipment.
º This can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours.
Give us feedback!
Help us show the NSF that remote access is a valuable resource.

Instructor Survey - tell us about your experience requesting, testing, and running remote access.
Student Survey - share this survey with your students. We want to know if they enjoyed the experience and found it valuable.
What type of tools are available for remote?
The remote access instrument centers have a wide rarity of microscopes and analytical tools to enable high magnification with high resolution for 2D and 3D imaging and prices measurement of chemical, compositional, or other physical properties, respectfully. Sample libraries at the instrument centers have specimen to cover most interest areas.

For more information on these tools and techniques please reference E SC 216 course notes and training modules.

Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)

A scanning electron microscope (SEM) is a type of electron microscope that produces images of a sample by scanning it with a focused beam of electrons. The electrons interact with atoms in the sample, producing various signals that can be detected and that contain information about the sample's surface topography and composition. The electron beam is generally scanned in a raster scan pattern, and the beam's position is combined with the detected signal to produce an image. SEM can achieve resolution better than 1 nanometer. Specimens can be observed in high vacuum, in low vacuum, in wet conditions (in environmental SEM), and at a wide range of cryogenic or elevated temperatures. Read more

Electron Probe Microanalyzer (EPMA)

What is an Electron Microprobe, how is it different from a Scanning Electron Microscope, and when does a researcher choose the probe vs. the SEM?
An electron microprobe (or electron probe microanalyzer, EPMA) is a specialized scanning electron microscope, optimized for accurate and precise quantitative compositional analysis of solid materials at the micro-scale. In addition to electron imaging capability, it has a reflected light microscope to check focus and surface quality. It is equipped with five wavelength-dispersive X-ray spectrometers (WDS), which use diffracting crystals to separate the characteristic X-rays emiited by a sample before counting them. This gives the EPMA much finer spectral resolution than the energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometers (EDS) often installed on SEMs. In turn, in combination with careful analysis of standards and matrix correction software, WDS allows quantification of all major elements heavier than N and minor elements down in some cases to ~100 ug/g, with typically 1% relative precision and accuracy. Because each WDS spectrometer only counts one wavelength at a time, one usually only analyzes a short list of elements. By comparison, EDS analysis on the SEM achieves only about 5% relative precision and accuracy and generally cannot detect minor elements below ~1000 ug/g, but simultaneously measures all the elements. Hence, when accurate and precise determination of a known list of elements is desired, the EPMA is the instrument of choice. When quicker qualitative assessment of the elements present is desired, the SEM is the tool of choice. EPMA analysis gives a student an opportunity to learn and think about a number of important issues in microanalysis and in the science and statistics of measurement more broadly: choice of standards, background subtraction, counting statistics, reproducibility, detection limits, internal and external precision, etc.

Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS)

Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS, EDX, or XEDS), sometimes called energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDXA) or energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis (EDXMA), is an analytical technique used for the elemental analysis or chemical characterization of a sample. It relies on an interaction of some source of X-ray excitation and a sample. Its characterization capabilities are due in large part to the fundamental principle that each element has a unique atomic structure allowing unique set of peaks on its X-ray emission spectrum. Read more

Atomic Force Microscope (AFM)

Atomic-force microscopy (AFM) or scanning-force microscopy (SFM) is a very high-resolution type of scanning probe microscopy (SPM), with demonstrated resolution on the order of fractions of a nanometer, more than 1000 times better than the optical diffraction limit. Read more


Profilometer is a measuring instrument used to measure a surface's profile, in order to quantify its roughness. Read more

Ultraviolet–visible Spectrophotometer

Ultraviolet–visible spectroscopy or ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometry (UV-Vis or UV/Vis) refers to absorption spectroscopy or reflectance spectroscopy in the ultraviolet-visible spectral region. This means it uses light in the visible and adjacent (near-UV and near-infrared [NIR]) ranges. The absorption or reflectance in the visible range directly affects the perceived color of the chemicals involved. Read more

Confocal Microscope

Confocal microscopy is an optical imaging technique for increasing optical resolution and contrast of a micrograph by means of adding a spatial pinhole placed at the confocal plane of the lens to eliminate out-of-focus light. It enables the reconstruction of three-dimensional structures from the obtained images. Read more

Optical Microscope

The optical microscope, often referred to as light microscope, is a type of microscope which uses visible light and a system of lenses to magnify images of small samples. Optical microscopes are the oldest design of microscope and were possibly invented in their present compound form in the 17th century. Basic optical microscopes can be very simple, although there are many complex designs which aim to improve resolution and sample contrast. Read more

Molecular Analyzer

The molecular analyzer is used for the measurement of the size, electrophoretic mobility of proteins, zeta potential of colloids and nanoparticles, and optionally the measurement of protein mobility and microrheology of protein and polymer solutions.

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR)

Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) is a technique which is used to obtain an infrared spectrum of absorption or emission of a solid, liquid or gas. An FTIR spectrometer simultaneously collects high spectral resolution data over a wide spectral range. This confers a significant advantage over a dispersive spectrometer which measures intensity over a narrow range of wavelengths at a time. Read more

X-ray fluorescence (XRF)

X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is the emission of characteristic "secondary" (or fluorescent) X-rays from a material that has been excited by bombarding with high-energy X-rays or gamma rays. The phenomenon is widely used for elemental analysis and chemical analysis, particularly in the investigation of metals, glass, ceramics and building materials, and for research in geochemistry, forensic science, archaeology and art objects such as paintings and murals. Read more

Rough Vacuum Equipment Trainer (RA-RVET)

Remote Instrument Partners Who we are
Remote access instrument centers are located across the continental US so we may serve the widest possible community–anyone who wants to learn about nanotechnology. Each center has tools of unique functionality, all with micro and nano capabilities.

The centers are staffed by a number of people with special education and research interests, but all have a strong foundation in nanotechnology in their related fields as well as practical experience with microscopes and analytical instrumentation. Our remote instrument managers are all dedicated to the improvement of science and engineering education and to helping their communities flourish.
We thank them for their time and dedication.
Normandale Community College
Normandale Community College
Bloomington, MN
Chair, Engineering Technology Programs
Nancy Louwagie

  • Remotely Accessible Rough Vacuum Equipment Trainer system (RA-RVET)
COSINC (Colorado Shared Instrumentation in Nanofabrication and Characterization)
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO
COSINC-CHR Facility Manager/Scientist
Tomoko Borsa

COSINC Director
Aju Jugessur
  • FIB FEI Nova 600 Nanolab (Dual Beam) with FESEM capability
Grand Valley State University
Grand Valley State University
Grand Rapids, MI
Program Chair of Electrical Engineering
Dr. Heidi Jiao, Professor of Electrical Engineering
  • AFM: Agilent 5400 AFM/SPM
  • SEM: SEM Hitachi S3400N
California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA
Instrument Operator
Chi Ma

Principal Investigator
Paul Asimow
  • JEOL JXA-8200 Hyperprobe, Combined ED/WD Electron Probe Microanalyzer
The Nanotechnology Collaborative Infrastructure Southwest (NCI-SW) at Arizona State University (ASU)
Arizona State University (ASU)
Tempe, AZ
Faculty Associate
Raymond Tsui

Cattaraugus-Allegany-Erie-Wyoming Board of Cooperative Educational Services (CABOCES)
Olean and Ellicottville, NY
CTE Administrator for Curriculum and Instruction
James Schifley

Coppin State
Coppin State
Baltimore, MD
William Ghann

  • UV-VIS-NIR spectrophotometer
Erie Community College (ECC)
Erie Community College (ECC)
Williamsville, NY
Rich Hill

Scott Jannack
  • AFM
  • SEM / EDS
Forsyth Tech Community College
Forsyth Tech Community College
WInston-Salem, NC
Kelly Sassin

Bob Summers
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA
Process Equipment Engineer III
Thomas Johnson-Averette
  • FT-IR Spectrometer
  • Molecular Analyzer
  • UV-VIS Spectrometer
Nebraska Nanoscale Facility
Nebraska Nanoscale Facility
855 N 16th St, N214 NANO
Lincoln, NE 68588-0298
Research Technologist
Dr. Anandakumar Sarella

Materials and Nanoscience Research Specialist II
Dr. Shah Valloppilly
  • XRF Instrument
Georgia Southern University
Georgia Southern University
Statesboro, Georgia
Assistant Professor
Mahmoud Baniasadi, Ph.D.
  • Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) - Park System - NX-10
Southeastern Coalition for Engagement and Exchange in Nanotechnology Education (SCENE)
Norfolk State University (SCENE)
Norfolk, Virginia
Grad Student
Nived Mukundan
  • Reactive Ion Etching (RIE)- TRION
Northcentral Technical College (NTC)
Northcentral Technical College (NTC)
Wausau, WI
Frank Fernandes
  • SEM
  • AFM
  • FlexAFM
Northwest Vista College, Workforce Programs
Northwest Vista College
San Antonio, TX
Stanford University (nano@Stanford)
Stanford University
Stanford, CA
Academic program manager
Angela Hwang

External user coordinator
Graham Ewing
  • 3D Laser Confocal Microscope
Seattle's Hub for Industry-driven Nanotechnology Education (SHINE)
North Seattle College (NSC)
Seattle, WA
  • Confocal Microscope
  • AFM
  • Profilometer
  • SEM / EDS
O.R.A.N.G.E. (Oakton Remote Access to Nanotechnology Guidance for Educators)
Oakton Community College (O.R.A.N.G.E.)
Skokie, IL
Nanotechnology Grant & Laboratory Manager
John R. Ireland
  • SEM
  • EDS
  • Flex AFM
  • Profilometer
Pasadena City College (PCC)
Pasadena City College (PCC)
Pasadena, CA
Jared Ashcroft
  • SEM / EDS
Center for Nanotechnology Education and Utilization (CNEU - NACK Network)
Pennsylvania State University (PSU)
State College, PA
Outreach/Research Assistant
Renee Lindenberg
  • FESEM: Zeiss 55 Ultra with Oxford Inca EDS
  • SPM/AFM: Innova
  • Profilometer
  • UV-Vis. Spectrophotometry
  • EDS
  • Optical
Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network (RTNN)
Raleigh, NC
RTNN manager
Phillip Strader
  • Environmental SEM
Salt Lake Community College (SLCC)
Salt Lake Community College (SLCC)
Salt Lake City, UT
Glen Johnson

Wesley Sanders
  • SEM
  • AFM
  • AFM / SPM
SUNY Polytechnic Institute
SUNY Polytechnic Institute
251 Fuller Rd
Albany, NY 12203
Lab Instructional Support Specialist
Paul Kutscha
University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)
University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)
One UTSA Circle
San Antonio, TX
  • SEM / EDS
University of Iowa
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA
  • Electron Beam Lithography
  • Electron Beam Deposition
  • Reactive Ion Etching Tool
University of California San Diego
University of California San Diego
San Diego, CA
Director, Education Programs and Outreach
Yves Theriault, PhD, PMP
  • Zeiss Sigma 500 SEM
Utah Valley University (UVU)
Utah Valley University (UVU)
800 West University Parkway
Orem, UT 84058
Associate Professor
Dr. Paul Weber

Daniel Rodriguez
Support Center for Microsystems Education (UNM)
University of New Mexico (SCME)
800 Bradbury Dr. SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
Research Professor
Matthias Pleil
  • SEM / EDS

Images of Organic Samples

Butterfly Wing

Charles Hair

Cicada Wing

Gecko Skin



Butterfly Sample

Images of Inorganic Samples




Ni Nano Wires

Nickel Tree

Microchip Sample

The above nano-scale images are captured with the same tools available for your use (for education or outreach) via our remote access service. Each RAIN partner has samples available, which vary by location. If you have any specific items that you'd like to view during your session, let us know when requesting your session and we will provide you with shipping instructions. | Footer
Funded, in part, by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
DUE 2000725
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