The acquisition of the proposed instrument, i.e. a high resolution field emission scanning electron microscope, will dramatically upgrade the capabilities for surface characterization and analysis existent at Cleveland State University (CSU). The high resolution imaging capability of the microscope (~ 1nm at 30 kV) together with its analytical tools that include back-scattered electron detection, and energy dispersive X-ray mapping, will help an interdisciplinary core of researchers from CSU and neighboring institutions to continue building a comprehensive program in nanotechnology. Some of the research programs currently ongoing for which the instrument will provide much needed infrastructure include: (i) fabrication of hybrid metal - semiconductor nanostructures for light emission applications; (ii) nanostructured materials for hydrogen storage; (iii) characterization of minerals and artifacts of antiquity; (iv) characterization of thermally responsive polymers; (v) biomedical applications of microfluidics; (vi) development of nanocomposite materials with improved mechanical and electronic properties; (vii) strain-tolerant self-sensing environmental barrier coatings for ceramic composites; (viii) nanocomposite materials for supercapacitors; (ix) nanostructured catalysts for biological detection; and (x) structure analysis of lipoproteins. Additionally, the imaging infrastructure will create the opportunity to introduce nanotechnology as part of the educational experience offered to our science and engineering undergraduates and graduate students, and K-12 partners.
Understanding and exploiting for practical applications the unique phenomena of materials with nanoscale dimensions requires the ability to characterize their geometry on scales down to 1 nm. The proposed high resolution microscope will provide vital morphological and also analytical information for projects ranging from structural mechanics to life sciences. This infrastructure will support the work of researchers from the departments of Physics, Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, across two colleges at CSU. Work using the facility includes not only projects from CSU, but also from neighboring institutions, such as the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Likewise, the availability of the instrument will have a great impact on our courses with material in nanotechnology and surface characterization, and will allow our faculty to expand the research programs offered to our undergraduate and graduate students. Also, through our school partners the high resolution microscope provides an ideal platform to provide experiential learning on the properties of matter on the nano and microscale for K-12 students.