NCPTT has six laboratories: three in Lee Nelson Hall and three hosted in Northwestern State University buildings. These laboratories house our scientific equipment and provide space for materials testing and analysis. Information on specific instruments can be found on our Scientific Equipment pages.
Sample Preparation Laboratory
This laboratory is where we use tools that to cut, polish, finish, or drill samples; we can use chemicals and other products to treat or intentionally contaminate samples for experiments. Also, this laboratory houses our scientific equipment for determining the mechanical properties (e.g. compressive or torsion strength) of our samples before and after treatment.
Analytical Chemistry Laboratory
This laboratory houses much of NCPTT’s instrumentation. Our analytical suite is used to characterize samples and materials before, during and after experiments. This is critical for understanding how materials degrade over time, when exposed to extreme weather conditions, or are treated with different chemicals.
Geological Materials Laboratory
This laboratory currently holds our basic geo-documentation tools including petrographic microscopes with attached cameras, Mohs hardness test kit, geologic sieves, and Munsell color books. This lab is also where Technical Services documents and analyzes mortar samples by acid digestion.
Environmental Exposure Laboratory
NCPTT conducts a range of experiments to examine how materials, coatings, or treatments behave under severe weather conditions. In order to do these experiments, we have a suite of equipment that can expose samples to conditions such as UV radiation, humidity, salt fogs, or spraying water in ways that simulate realistic environments. Along with the scientific equipment, one of the exposure labs has sufficient floor space to build scale models for experimentation; at the moment this lab is home to seven brick-and-mortar walls used in a driving rain and rising damp experiment.
Complementary to the Environmental Exposure Laboratory, the Freeze-Thaw Laboratory holds a chamber that allows us to expose samples to freeze-thaw cycles. We can use this instrument to simulate the harsher conditions of northern North America or rapid and less extreme cycling of a more temperate climate.
The laser lab hosts a suite of cleaning, documentation and rendering equipment. This is where we clean samples using either a laser or micro-abrasion, as well as take 3D scans of smaller objects. We also have the ability to make 3D scale models either through printing (adding material) or milling (removing material).