This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).
This proposal is for the acquisition of a Field-Emission Scanning Electron Microscope (FE-SEM) at OU for imaging, analytical work, and electron beam lithography (EBL). Essentially these tools are the "eyes" and "pen" required for doing nanoscience. Features of this modern FE-SEM include: (1) low acceleration voltage which provides excellent resolution even below 1 kV on conductors, insulators and even biological materials and (2) a bigger sample chamber that will allow us look at larger samples without additional preparation and will permit a "suite of techniques" that will provide truly nanoscale topographic, structural, and compositional contrast along with elemental and crystalline characterization. Electron beam lithography on the FE-SEM will provide us with writing capabilities below 10 nm linewidths. The acquisition of a FE-SEM will provide enormous intellectual merit to the engineering and science programs at OU. Specific examples of the intellectual merit of this proposal include: Accelerate research efforts on semiconductor-based structures as innovative materials for electronic, photonic, and spintronic device applications; Advance the development of novel nanoparticles for targeted drug delivery; Provide an understanding of the role of scaffold structure on cell growth and cell integration in a variety of tissue engineered materials; and Expand our knowledge of the interactions between polymers and single-walled carbon nanotubes. The acquisition of an FE-SEM will also take nanoscience outreach to the next level throughout the state. Specific examples of the broader impacts of this proposal include: Strengthen OU's efforts to act as a regional hub for nanotechnology in industry and academia; Tele or web-presence will enhance our already strong electron microscopy outreach effort; and Broad impact will be felt in existing outreach efforts with high schools, community colleges, and regional 4 year universities.
Layman Summary: This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).
The University of Oklahoma's acquisition of a state-of-the-art Field-Emission Scanning Electron Microscope (FE-SEM) will allow researchers access to the nanoworld, allowing easy and versatile imaging of conductors, insulators, nanoelectronic and biological materials. Truly nanoscale topographic, structural, and compositional images and information require this technology to take our nanotechnology to the near-atomic level. A large sample chamber will allow larger samples to be examined intact, with minimal preparation, permitting a suite of analytical techniques to provide nanochemically-informed fabrication of diverse materials. Electron Beam Lithography (EBL) capacities on the FE-SEM will allow nanoscopic patterns to be written onto materials at the finest widths possible. These capabilities will provide us with the means to probe, interact, and manipulate their properties on the nanoscale. The acquisition of a FE-SEM will have an enormous intellectual impact on the already first rate engineering and science programs at OU. Specifically this proposal will allow an accelerations of research efforts on semiconductor-based structures including innovative materials for electronic, magnetic, and light emitting and sensing devices; will advance the development of novel nanoparticles for targeted drug delivery; will provide detailed understanding of the role of scaffold structure on cell growth and cell integration in a variety of tissue engineered materials(e.g. synthetic bone and organ synthesis); expand our knowledge of the interactions between polymers and single-walled carbon nanotubes for the ultimate goal of electrically conductive and high strength polymer composite materials. The acquisition of an FE-SEM will also take nanoscience outreach to the next level throughout the state by strengthening OU's efforts to act as a regional hub for nanotechnology in industry and academia. In addition, an FE-SEM will enhance our already strong electron microscopy outreach efforts with K-12 schools, community colleges, and regional 4-year universities by providing a means to demonstrate on site (e.g. demonstrations and tours) or remotely through tele or web-presence the vital role electron microscopy has in virtually all fields of scientific endeavor.
(FE-SEM) with some of the usual accessories. Initially, the proposal was not fully funded and it looked like we would have to cut back on the user-requested accessories. However, we were able to maintain the full OU match while working with Zeiss, the winning microscope vendor, to upgrade the microscope to a fully factory-refurbished-dual beam instrument combining an SEM with a focused ion beam (FIB). Furthermore we have used internal grants to add additional accessories –see below for details. The result is a remarkably versatile FE-SEM capable of looking at a wide range of conducting through insulating samples with sensitivity to atomic steps and crystalline defects, as well as a wide array of nanoparticles and complex composite materials - for starters. The additional accessories provide the ability to do elemental and phase analysis on the nanoscale; ion-beam modification and etching allows slice-and-view images leading to 3D reconstructions of crystalline features or defects and even biological materials such as pollen and spores; deposit nanoscale conducting or insulating features to probe electrical properties on the nanoscale; and mechanically manipulate the sample itself while directly looking at it with the SEM. Many of these techniques were not previously available in Oklahoma prior to the microscopeâ€™s installation. Although selection and preparation for installing the FE-SEM occupied the year, followed by delivery and installation, the microscope has already contributed images, results and data to 20 presentations at scientific conferences, 9 papers either published or accepted and an additional 10 scientific articles either submitted or in preparation to be submitted to peer reviewed scientific journals. In addition, this instrument has been integrated into instructional and outreach programs that have fully trained over 25 graduate and advanced undergraduate students and has exposed grade school, high school and university STEM students to state-of-the-art imaging in the physical and life sciences. When all is said and done, we now have a Zeiss Neon 40 EsB dual beam instrument with a state-of-the-art FE-SEM, and a late model FIB, with the following accessories: A wide array of secondary and backscatter electron detectors: for routine topographical and morphological imaging as well as compositional and crystalline defect analysis; EDS (energy dispersive [x-ray] spectroscopy): for elemental analysis down to the nanoscale; EBSD (electron backscattered diffraction): for phase and crystalline defect analysis; FIB/GIS (focused ion beam/ gas injection system): for surface modification, etching and deposition; and a Micromanipulator: for micromechanical manipulation of samples while they are being imaged. Acquisition of the FE-SEM has had a significant intellectual impact on the engineering and science programs at the University of Oklahoma and more broadly within the State. New techniques include: Methods for direct observation of atomic steps and crystalline defects on epitaxial layers; Slice-and-view imaging for 3D reconstruction; and preparing site or feature specific ultra-thin samples required for transmission electron microscopy (TEM). New applications include: Studying nanoparticles synthesized for drug delivery or novel optical and electronic behavior; Characterizing epitaxial layers for mid-IR lasers and detectors; Developing nanocomposite blends, especially involving nanotubes, for bio-sensors, conductive thin films and high strength polymer materials; Understanding dynamic weakening by nanoscale smoothing during high velocity fault slips; and nanotexturing surfaces for biomemetic and biomedical applications. Unanticipated in the original proposal was the extent that this FE-SEM would benefit biological research, as well as applications in the interface between biological and physical sciences. These biological applications include effects of scaffold structure on cell growth and cell integration in a variety of tissue-engineered materials (e.g. synthetic bone and organ synthesis), construction of nanoparticles for targeted drug delivery, and understanding of pollen wall organization, among other student, faculty and institutional projects. The acquisition of this FE-SEM has taken nanoscience outreach to the next level throughout the State by strengthening OUâ€™s efforts to act as a regional hub for nanotechnology in industry and academia. In addition, this FE-SEM has already enhanced our electron microscopy outreach efforts with K-12 schools with the Oklahoma Ugly Bug Contest, community colleges, and regional 4-year universities through demonstrations and tours, emphasizing the vital role that electron microscopy has in virtually all fields of scientific endeavor.