The objective of this Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) award is to purchase a high resolution 3D X-Ray microscopy system (Micro X-Ray CT). A wide variety of research will be enhanced by acquisition of this Micro X-Ray CT system including: a broad-based campus research collaboration in nanotechnology, an NSF-sponsored Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) on friction stir processing, and an NSF-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site. In addition, single investigator research will be enhanced by the Micro X-Ray CT acquisition. Specific research to be positively impacted by the equipment acquisition includes the following areas: Direct Write Printing of Flexible Electronic Devices; Paleoenvironmental Reconstructions and Nondestructive Analysis of Fossil Resources; Concrete Characterization; Advanced Membranes for Bioseparations and Biorenewables Processing; Personal Protective Equipment for Blast and Impact; Soil and Rock Core Evaluation; and Nanoenergetic Materials Research. The equipment will provide far-reaching impacts across disciplinary research.
In addition to the scientific research to be enabled, significant education and training opportunities will be invigorated with this instrument. In this regard, the requested instrument would be utilized in at least eight courses that typically enroll more than 250 students/year. In addition, SDSM&T hosts a summer NSF REU site (Back to the Future!) which will utilize this equipment within the Site's research projects. The Micro X-Ray CT will be utilized in a wide variety of summer engineering camps for high school students. The SDSM&T Museum of Geology serves as a formal fossil repository for a plethora of federal and state governmental agencies and regional tribal agencies. This Micro X-Ray CT facility will greatly enhance the analytical research performed on these fossils and provide new exhibits for the 24,000 visitors the Museum hosts yearly. Cyber-enabling will allow greater collaboration between SDSM&T and the other South Dakota regental and tribal institutions of higher learning.
This award was primarily focused on purchasing, installing and using a high resolution, 3D microcomputed tomography (microXCT) system. This primary goal was met by purchasing the requested system in January 2012, installing the system in March 2012 and utilizing the system following installation and with the help of several training systems. Overall, one peer-reviewed research paper, two research paper abstracts, and 12 research posters and presentations utilized results from the microXCT system and between 750 and 800 people have used or toured the facilities and we are working toward developing museum exhibits with our museum-based partners.. With respect to the intellectual merit, nine different areas were identified in the original proposal for possible research with the microXCT system. The microXCT system was used in seven of these areas and three areas not included in the original proposal were investigated using the microXCT system. These investigations supported two NSF sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates sites, one statewide NSF-EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement grant, an NSF-sponsored I/UCRC award, and a variety of research projects supported by the Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Association, the State of South Dakota, and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. With respect to broader impacts, opportunities were seen for using the microXCT in a variety of courses at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, at local NSF-REU site, in summer camps for High School students and in collaboration with local museums. These broader impact goals were met by developing a new class devoted to learning the principles and use of the microXCT system, having laboratory exercises using the microXCT in four laboratory courses, having five junior/senior design groups use the microXCT and a lecture was given to a freshman class and two work groups from this class used the microXCT system. The local Back to the Future 2 and Security Printing and Anti-Counterfeiting technology NSF-REU sites used the microXCT system heavily. We have worked with both the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Museum of Geology and the Heritage Center at Red Cloud to examine museum materials. Finally, the microXCT system is a centerpiece for department tours for future students, alumni and possible industrial and government collaborators.