This grant supports a multi-user Field Emission-Scanning Electron Microscope (FE-SEM) to be installed in an Internet-connected facility. It will allow users to view SEM images from anywhere on Mississippi State campus and throughout the K-12 educational system. While the new SEM will reside at MSU, faculty at the other major research universities in Mississippi will also make use of this facility. The fully analytical FE-SEM will serve the multi-disciplinary research needs of a number of faculty members from various Colleges and Departments throughout MSU. The primary users will explore surface phenomena in catalysts; microfluidic MEMs devices; organic/inorganic relations in soils and rocks; aspects of cell-biomaterial surface interactions and biocompatibility; and contributions of phase evolution and microstructure to deformation and fracture processes. This instrument will greatly expand the efficacy of current research, broaden the scope of future projects, and have a significant impact on materials education at MSU, sister research institutions in Mississippi, and the K-12 educational system.
This SEM will help foster the integration of research and education by providing modern materials analysis instrumentation with general availability across disciplines. Installation of the FE-SEM in an interactive setting will promote materials research as a career choice to students in K-12. Currently offered summer Outreach Programs for Teachers will be used to advertise this resource. The co-investigators will have special broadcast demonstrations to assist students in exploring the microstructural world of materials and how microstructure affects their behavior. After initial exposure to microscopy through demonstrations in the classroom at MSMS, the students will have the opportunity to actively participate in research at the MSU campus. The modules and demonstrations developed at MSMS will serve as a model for use in other high schools throughout the state of Mississippi. MSU plays a leading role in attracting high tech industry to the state of Mississippi, and enhanced analytical capabilities will help provide the research support needed to enhance economic development in the South.