This Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant will provide funding for the acquisition of a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) to enhance undergraduate research, education and training at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico BayamÃ³n Campus (IAUPRBC). The requested SEM will be used for studies in interdisciplinary areas of nanoscience, engineering and technology. The acquired instrument will be shared with several research groups, which provides training, service, and support to a large group of underrepresented students in Puerto Rico.
The availability of this sophisticated and powerful SEM, not only improves the educational and research experiences of the students involved, but will also serve to develop a set of skills needed to become the next STEM workforce. Curriculum enhancement will occur in the existing science and engineering courses, and laboratories. Finally, in order to reach the K-12 educational sector, results of undergraduate projects and research will be used to create demonstrations and exhibits highlighting new and emerging sciences and engineering technologies. These activities will encourage K-12 students to pursue STEM careers.
The Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) acquired under this grant supported undergraduate research, education and training at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico Bayamón Campus (IAUPRBC). The instrument is equipped with multiples detectors (BSE, SE, LVSE, and EDS) that enabled the instrument for the analysis of different kind of samples. For instance it has been used for interdisciplinary research in the areas of nanoscience, engineering and technology. Indeed, the SEM has been used by more than 5 institutions of higher education and several research groups in Puerto Rico impacting a large number of underrepresented students and professionals in jurisdiction. The intellectual merit for this program, relies in the ability to enable the evolution of diverse fields working on projects that include: Effect of membrane electrode assembly (MEA) fabrication on fuel cell performance, Characterization of electrospun polymeric fibers, Atmospheric transport and deposition of semi volatile organics in Puerto Rico, Relation between ant behavior and cuticle structure, Online micro crack detection and mechanical properties study of the permeation of hydrogen in turbine blades and aerospace components, Characterization of micro structures for energy harvesting micro systems, Characterization of micro structures for energy harvesting micro systems, and Quantum Dots for Light Energy Harvesting Applications. This MRI program provided a unique professional development with a special emphasis to undergraduate research education and training. Therefore over 30 teachers and 30 high school students had the opportunity to work and used this sophisticated tool. The results of the research and educational activities have been disseminated through several avenues that includes: scientific symposiums, seminars, workshops (for school teachers and high school students), publication on meetings proceeding and peer-review journal. For example students and researchers presented on the major local scientific symposium for students from universities across the island, which is sponsored by the Local Chapter of the ACS and the PR-LSAMP.