The objective of this grant application is to acquire a cutting-edge commercial multi-functional instrument Cryogen-free Cryocooler-based Physical Property Measurement System (PPMS EverCool-II, Quantum Design, USA) to support fundamental and interdisciplinary research projects and the applied physics education program in the Rio Grande Valley, South Texas region. The equipment will be installed at the University of Texas at Brownsville and will be used as a shared characterization facility. This instrument is designed to measure a variety of materials properties including magnetic, transport, and thermal under different temperatures (1.9 - 1000 K), magnetic fields (up to 9 T) and environments (from atmospheric pressure to high vacuum). The system is cryogen-free and no costly liquid cryogens are required. The attractive feature of the PPMS is a cryocooler to achieve cryogenic temperatures. The PPMS EverCool-II is a highly automated instrument. It can perform unattended measurements after the user has installed a sample and configured the measurement. This acquisition will enhance the existing research and educational infrastructure and will provide the state-of-the-art measurement system to a broad range of users in State of Texas, thereby elevating advanced materials research and educational programs in the Rio Grande Valley to a globally competitive level.
on NSF CBET Award No. 1126410 Period: 09/01/2012 to 08/31/2013 PI- Dr. K. Martirosyan, University of Texas at Brownsville Co-PIs D. Litvinov, University of Houston; M. Chipara, University Of Texas Pan American; A. Zakhidov, University of Texas at Dallas; R. Wilkins, Prairie View A&M University Program Overview The main goal of this two-year Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) project is to acquire a dedicated Physical Property Measurement System (PPMS) EverCool–II instrument, which is the first modern multi-functional Cryogen-free Cryocooler-based instrument in the South Texas Region. The Cryogen-free Cryocooler-based PPMS is the novel technique for measurement and analysis of samples when magnetic, electrical transport and thermal properties is of interest under different temperatures (1.9 - 1000 K), magnetic fields (up to 9 T) and environments (from atmospheric pressure to high vacuum). The PPMS system was installed on January 2013 at the University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB) in the PI laboratory (location SETB 1.414) and becomes a part of the UTB materials characterization Facility. The system is cryogen-free and no costly liquid cryogens are required. The attractive feature of the PPMS is a cryocooler to achieve cryogenic temperatures. The PPMS EverCool–II is a highly automated instrument. It can perform unattended measurements after the user has installed a sample and configured the measurement. This acquisition of the instrument was enhance the existing research and educational infrastructure and provides the state-of-the-art measurement system to a broad range of users in Texas, thereby elevating advanced materials research and educational programs in the Rio Grande Valley to a globally competitive level. Intellectual Merit: The installation of PPMS instrument enables significant enhancement of basic research toolset across a wide range of materials and device programs including scalability of magnetic devices, patterned magnetic arrays, biosensors, temperature controlled drug delivery systems, bioimaging, nanostructured spintronic devices, lightweight nano magnetic composites, magnetic semiconductors, high temperature superconductors, positioning devices for gravitational wave detectors and radiation induced functional materials. These projects represent fundamental research in transport of matter and energy by chemical, thermal, and mechanical ways. The PPMS EverCool–II capabilities inspires development of new transformative research directions across several institutions. Broader Impacts: The use of this instrument brings together a diverse group of institutions in Texas: University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB), University of Texas Pan American (UTPA), Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU), University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), University of Houston (UH) and University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The PPMS EverCool–II has a wide range of capabilities which benefit potential users from physics, engineering, biology, and medical fields. Shared use of the instrument promotes multi-institutional, inter-disciplinary collaborations that enhanced the educational experience of more than 200 undergraduate and graduate students of participating universities. The PPMS EverCool–II forms a nucleus for a broad collaboration of scientists and engineers, resulting new collaborations and further funding opportunities. The project educational activities trains students in the Rio Grande Valley in areas of condensed matter, solid state physics, materials science and biophysics that are expected to have the greatest national impact in the coming years. Especially this instrument is vital for Nanoscience Certificate Concentration Program that PI established recently at UTB. The Nanoscience and Applied physics curriculum at the UTB enriched by the lab experiments made possible with the cryocooler-based facility and provides hands-on experience for students in low temperature and magnetic, electrical transport and thermal measurements. As part of the research activities, students from physics, chemistry, engineering, biology, and other programs involved in exciting and engaging interdisciplinary collaborative research. The team members incorporate PPMS EverCool–II training into educational programs at their institutions including Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST), Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU); Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) and Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education (NUE). During the second year of the project the water cooled PPMS was installed in the PI lab (800 ft2) in January 2012 and the configuration was finalized during the calibration-installation process. Figure 1 shows the actual set of the water cooled PPMS EverCool–II instrument installed in the PI lab at SETB 1.414. The system selected is an automated flexible instrument, able to perform a wide variety of materials characterization including magnetic moment, AC susceptibility, electrical transport, magnetoresistance, Hall effect, heat capacity, and thermal transport which are relevant to most common fields in materials science and engineering. The Quantum Design PPMS EverCool-II™ dewar is second generation EverCool technology that has been further optimized to eliminate any need for external filling of liquid cryogens. The improved efficiency of the system enables the initial cool-down procedure with only a standard helium gas cylinder and the fully automated operation is maintaining an optimal liquid helium level. The PPMS EverCool-II™ features an integrated cryocooler-based design to condense liquid helium directly within the dewar.