Non-technical: This Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant awarded to Delaware State University (DSU) provides funding for the acquisition of a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). This high-resolution imaging microscope enhances the research and educational capabilities at DSU, a historically-black university with a large pool of talented students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Thanks to this acquisition, DSU STEM students get "hands on" experience and training in this broadly-used technology. Further, the SEM is an impetus to stimulate new opportunities, and to develop new collaborative projects among DSU and non-DSU researchers. Most particularly, it strengthens the mission of the NSF-funded Center for Research Excellence in Science and Technology at DSU: the Optical Science Center for Applied Research.
The goals of this MRI project are: (1) to develop and design novel materials for integrated circuits and their applications, (2) to assess the efficiency of (Deoxyribonucleic acid) DNA delivery systems, (3) to understand the estrogen receptors in goldfish, and (4) to characterize and probe the nanoscopic structures of diverse biopolymers. In addition, the instrument provides other capabilities such as energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy microanalysis system, which can be used to determine the elemental composition of a specimen. Thus, the instrument contributes to the successful realization of various ongoing research projects at DSU, including: i) the fabrication of a nanofiber in situ electroporation chip to deliver DNA into cells, ii) the study of membrane-associated estrogen receptors in the Mauthner cell circuit of goldfish, and iii) the characterization of tubulin nanorings.