This Major Research Instrumentation proposal requests funds to acquire a Bruker D8 Discover X-Ray Diffraction system that will serve the crystallographic characterization needs of the Brown research community. The instrument will be used for phase identification, single crystal orientation, grazing incidence diffraction, and reflectometry, and will enable a variety of ongoing research efforts in engineering, physics, chemistry, geology, biology and medicine, and the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World. The relevant project portfolio includes work on conducting oxides, Pb-free solders, high-strength steels, magnetic materials, composites, Li-ion battery anodes, natural rock textures, new graphenic carbon structures, archeological samples, and newly synthesized nanomaterials for which sample volumes are limited and high XRD sensitivity is needed. The instrument will be also integrated into crystallography laboratory exercises for undergraduate instruction, and will be used in existing K-12 outreach programs that involve student groups from local stressed urban districts, in which students participate in age-appropriate learning modules. The instrument will be housed in the Brown University X-ray Facility, which will be operated and administratively managed as a cost-center within the Brown Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation, which promotes nanoscience and materials science research and education across the Brown campus and also coordinates outreach to local industry, government, and educational institutions.

Nontechnical Abstract

This Major Research Instrumentation proposal requests funds to acquire an X-Ray Diffractometer to study the atomic structure and properties of solid materials. This technique is an essential work-horse tool in the development of new materials for applications that range from lightweight vehicles, to batteries for renewable energy storage, to non-toxic lead-free solders, to magnetic hard drives and memories. The new instrument will also be employed at Brown for the study of natural rock textures in geological and planetary studies, for the examination and analysis of archeological samples, and for the development of new ultrafine materials made using the tools of nanotechnology. The XRD instrument will enable a wide variety of ongoing research efforts at Brown in programs that include engineering, physics, chemistry, geology, biology and medicine, and the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World. The instrument will also be integrated into laboratory exercises for undergraduate instruction, and will be used in existing K-12 outreach programs that involve student groups from local stressed urban districts, in which students participate in age-appropriate learning modules. The instrument will be operated and administratively managed as a cost-center within the Brown Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation, which promotes nanoscience and materials science research and education across the Brown campus and also coordinates outreach to local industry, government, and educational institutions.

Project Report

The goal of this project was to acquire and implement a state-of-the-art X-ray diffraction facility for use at Brown University. X-ray diffraction is a technique that characterizes the atomic-level structure of materials used in a wide array of research areas. It is an essential capability that was not available at Brown and was sorely needed. The PI and technician identified the needs of the user community and negotiated with several vendors to obtain the best system. They ended up with two separate goniometers and X-ray sources. One system has a linear detector for high resolution studies while the other has a large area 2-dimenional detector that can survey a large region of the diffracted intensity rapidly. This gave them complementary capabilities that enable a large range of studies with minimal down-time due to changing the system’s configuration. Intellectual merit: The systems enable users to employ numerous characterization methods that can measure 1) the phase of the material, 2) the orientation of the crystallites in the material (texture), 3) stress, 4) thin film structure, 5) film thickness (X-ray reflectometry), 6) high resolution diffraction and 7) orientation of single crystals. The facility also has a high temperature furnace and low-temperature cryogenic stage so that materials can be studied under a wide range of conditions. Examples of the areas of research aided by this facility include ferroelectric materials, Li-ion battery research, thermoelectrics, thermal barrier coatings for jet engines, catalytic properties, polymers and nanoparticle synthesis. Broader impact: The broader impact of the instrument has been primarily through the training of many new users who would not have been able to use this technique without this instrument. Since its acquisition, a large base of users has been developed and the systems are highly used. The users come from a wide range of disciplines (engineering, physics, chemistry, biology, geology) across the university. The PI has incorporated aspects of the training modules into a class on crystallography so that new graduate students can be exposed to the principles of X-ray diffraction. The system is also open to use by outside users in other academic institutions and industry so that it provides an important characterization capability for the southern New England region.

Agency
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institute
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
Type
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
1125928
Program Officer
Charles E. Bouldin
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2011-10-01
Budget End
2014-09-30
Support Year
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$466,612
Indirect Cost
Name
Brown University
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
Providence
State
RI
Country
United States
Zip Code
02912