With this award from the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program, Professor Daron Janzen from College of St Catherine and colleagues Steven Drew (Carleton College), Ted Pappenfus (U Minnesota Morris), James Wollack (College of St Catherine) and Alicia Peterson (College of Saint Benedict) will acquire a benchtop X-ray diffractometer that will serve a consortium of schools. The award will enhance research training and education at all levels, especially in areas such as (a) vapochromic sensor materials, (b) organic materials for use in bulk heterojunction solar cells, and (c) dechlorination of environmental pollutants.
An X-ray diffractometer allows accurate and precise measurements of the full three dimensional structure of a molecule, including bond distances and angles, and provides accurate information about the spatial arrangement of a molecule relative to neighboring molecules. The studies described here will impact a number of areas, including organic and inorganic chemistry, materials chemistry and biochemistry. This instrument will be an integral part of teaching as well as research at a consortium of institutions that include the College of St. Catherine, Carleton College, University of Minnesota at Morris and the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University.
The purpose of this Award was to acquire a benchtop X-ray diffractometer with low-temperature capabilities, and to establish a single-crystal X-ray diffraction consortium of primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) in Minnesota. The intent of the consortium is to provide enhanced access to X-ray crystallography for researchers at PUIs. As this instrumentation is uncommon at undergraduate institutions, the need for collaborations and costs associated with acquiring crystallographic data have limited use of and training in this technique with undergraduate students in research and teaching. This shared instrumentation project has provided access and training to faculty and undergraduate researchers at founding consortium member institutions as well as others. The founding consortium members, representing a variety of types of PUIs, included the University of Minnesota Morris, Carleton College, Saint Catherine University, and the College of Saint Benedict / Saint John's University. Other institutions participating in this consortium have included the University of St. Thomas, St. Olaf College, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and international collaborators at Guru Nanak Dev University in India and at the Faculte des Sciences de Bizerte in Tunisia. The diversity of undergraduate students involved in this consortium has mirrored the diversity at the consortium members' institutions, including numerous students from groups historically underrepresented in science research. Structural characterization of samples was carried out on a wide range of research projects including inorganic sensor materials, organometallic chemistry for small molecule activation, coordination chemistry, organic crystal engineering, organic materials for optoelectronic applications, and organic catalysis. The consortium has impacted the research of 15 faculty from 10 different institutions, involving the work of over 75 undergraduate research students. Faculty/student collaborative research involving this consortium has resulted in over 17 publications in peer-reviewed journals. Work made possible through this consortium has been presented at local, regional and national scientific meetings by faculty mentors and their undergraduate students in venues including the American Chemical Society (ACS) and American Crystallographic Society (ACA). Additionally, routine use of crystallography has been incorporated into undergraduate chemistry lab courses at St. Catherine University and Carleton College. Undergraduate training in crystallography has provided students important experiences that better prepare them for graduate research, industrial positions, and other professions involving instrumental lab work in a variety of fields. Faculty development in the use of and access to crystallography has helped support projects in previously untenable areas of research and has provided preliminary data used for other grant proposals and ultimately additional undergraduate student research opportunities.