This National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project is enabling Cal Poly Pomona to purchase and install a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and attached capabilities including Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS). This high quality and user-friendly instrument will support the research of faculty from across the university and will be available to local industry through sponsored projects and the surrounding community through outreach programs. Equally importantly, access to this cutting-edge research instrument will be of enormous benefit to the predominantly undergraduate student population of this Hispanic-serving institution and for K-12 and community college outreach efforts. It is to be noted that the campus community currently does not have a functioning scanning electron microscope (SEM) capable of meeting its diverse needs. This instrument will be utilized by the research team to train several project students across the university and also to incorporate it into their current courses as well as to offer courses centered on the instrument, e.g., Scanning Electron Microscope Techniques (Bio-578).
Several science and engineering problems will be studied using the SEM/EDS, e.g., morphology and compositional profiles for engineered coatings, imaging of advanced biomedical alloys, corrosion of metallic alloys, microscopic morphology of sea slugs, characterization of non-woven nanofibers, surface analysis of pharmaceutical powders, etc. The PI, Dr. Vilupanur A. Ravi, will use the SEM to characterize coatings on nickel. The goal of this NASA-sponsored project is reduce the sublimation rate of nickel for deep space power applications. In preliminary studies, applying aluminide coatings to nickel has shown promise in lowering the sublimation rate of the bare metal. The SEM will be used conduct detailed microstructural characterization of these aluminide coatings applied to nickel substrates of different geometries using novel approaches. In another project, one of the co-PIs, Dr. Yong Gan, was recently funded through NSF (CMMI Grant No. 1333044) to explore high efficiency thermoelectric energy conversion composite materials. He will use the SEM to generate high resolution images of new nanotube and nanocomposites to achieve his thermoelectric conversion efficiencies. An electrically conducting polymer based composite nanofiber containing bismuth telluride nanoparticles as the high thermoelectric power generating component, and titanium oxide nanotube for tuning the electrical and thermal transport behaviors is under investigation. Another co-PI, Dr. Angel Valdes will utilize the SEM to obtain morphological information on sea slugs as part of a NSF sponsored project (DEB-1355190). This project will allow Dr. Valdes and collaborators to combine genetic, anatomic, ecological and developmental studies to describe numerous new species of sea slugs. Modeling will then identify factors that determine how species are distributed, and what makes some sea slugs more ecologically and evolutionary diverse than others. Anti-cancer compounds have been isolated from some sea slugs and others have served as biological control agents for invasive algae, but taxonomic uncertainty has limited the potential for their use in these roles. To fully leverage an improved understanding of this biodiversity resource, this project will train the next generation of taxonomists, develop web-based resources, and provide new insight into factors that govern diversity in marine ecosystems.