This proposal seeks to establish the first modern powder/thin film X-ray diffractometer on the UC Santa Cruz campus. At present, thin film, in-situ variable temperature/atmosphere, reflectance, scattering and powder refinement data are not possible on campus. Current research needs across multiple departments in both the science and engineering divisions guarantee that the proposed instrumentation will operate and remain at full capacity immediately upon installation. Space for the instrument has already been assigned in the X-ray facility (PI Oliver is the director). The very user-friendly Rigaku SmartLab system and its automated changing of sample stages would facilitate the multiuser environment and thus training of graduate, undergraduate and postdoctoral researchers across many disciplines. Samples from nearby state university campuses will also be analyzed. The equipment will impact several NSF and NIH funded campus minority programs as well as a series of undergraduate and graduate courses. The multidisciplinary aspects of the project tie in perfectly with the goals of the MRI program and the campus initiative in materials. Within the last two months, plans have initiated to establish a Department of Materials Science and Engineering at UC Santa Cruz, led by Co-PI Ramirez who is also Dean of the School of Engineering.

Nontechnical Abstract

The UC Santa Cruz campus is in desperate need of state-of-the-art equipment that will allow researchers to study materials in a variety of areas important to society including electronics, alternative energy, sensors and biomaterials. The instrument uses X-rays to gain understanding of the internal structure of bulk powders and thin films, which will allow them to evaluate and further their externally funded research projects. Users across campus in both science and engineering rely on these data and would continually make use of the instrument. It would also impact several nearby state campuses that are studying materials. A series of courses in chemistry, physics and earth sciences would study the theory and use of the instrument, some with hands-on training. Transfer students from nearby community that are involved in UC Santa Cruz bridge programs would also make use of the instrumentation in their research and courses. This proposal matches well with the expansion by UC Santa Cruz into the area of materials, with a possible new Department of Materials Science and Engineering with ties to industry in nearby Silicon Valley.

Project Report

This grant funded the first modern instrument known as an X-ray diffractometer for the UC Santa Cruz campus. The instrument gives important information for solids of any form, such as powders, crystals, polymers, thin films or nanoparticles. This information allows researchers from any disciplines studying solids to understand the elements that make up their solid or thin film and their structure. This insight allows them to improve or understand the solid's properties for a variety of uses, ranging from electronics to sensors to biological applications. The X-ray diffractometer is housed in the X-ray Facility (PI is Director, see It has been used by 12 research groups on campus in Chemistry, Physics, Electrical Engineering and Earth & Marine Sciences. It has also been used by several nearby universities (San Francisco State, San Jose State and Stanford) and local startup companies. This instrument has many different ways to analyze powders and thin films, all on the same machine by changing parts of the measurement stage that modify the X-ray beam. It has been operated by Ph.D. students in the PI’s lab who have trained in users from other groups including one in Physics. The modern hardware and software allow these students to efficiently and safely use the diffractometer. A significant list of journal articles and federal funding has already resulted from this instrument grant. One broader impact of the project was for senior advanced lab courses to use the instrument in one or more of their experiments. To date, several senior chemistry lab courses have collected data on powders and thin films, including the physical chemistry lab, advanced inorganic lab and analytical chemistry. A senior physics lab also uses it twice per year. An average of 64 students each year enroll in these courses, and are exposed to state-of-the-art instrumentation methods thanks to this grant.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Program Officer
Charles E. Bouldin
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University of California Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
United States
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