This Major Research Instrumentation award allows Tulane University to acquire a tool to enable fabrication and imaging of materials and devices at the nanometer scale, to support nanoscience and nanotechnology research across southeastern Louisiana. Faculty from Tulane, Louisiana State University, Xavier University of Louisiana, and the University of New Orleans are engaged in this effort. Users include faculty from physics, chemistry, materials science, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, and mechanical engineering departments. The tool will be deployed in the Tulane Micro/Nanofabrication Facility which is the hub for micro- and nanoscale fabrication efforts in the region. Projects that utilize this tool will pursue advances in telecommunications, atomic scale devices, pharmaceutical design, chemical catalysts, high speed computing, and much more. Tulane and neighboring institutions are expanding education and research in materials science and engineering, and this tool will be an asset in advancing those efforts. In addition to enhancing shared research and educational objectives, the tool will help expose students from underrepresented groups to nanotechnology through a variety of outreach activities and partnerships. It will also provide an important capability to the growing tech economy of the greater New Orleans/Baton Rouge region.
This award enables Tulane University to acquire an ultra-high resolution electron beam lithography and electron microscopy system to support nanoscience and technology efforts across southeastern Louisiana. Faculty representing Tulane, Louisiana State University, Xavier University of Louisiana, and the University of New Orleans are participating, representing departments from physics and chemistry to biomedical and mechanical engineering. Compared to existing nanofabrication capabilities in the region, the requested equipment will enable a six-fold increase in resolution, a ten-fold improvement in writing speed, more than a ten-fold improvement in stability; it will increase the write area by more than 100,000 times, as well as additional features that are currently unavailable. Researchers using the instrument will pursue a variety of projects, including nanoscale optical antennas to be used for flat lenses, orbital angular momentum phase plates, structural biology characterization, and 2D infrared spectroscopy. Devices composed of 2D transition metal chalcogenides and 1D nanowires will be created for high speed and low energy consumption computing. Other projects include directed self-assembly of block copolymers, generation of nano-origami 3D structures from interfacial strains, functionally relevant models of the nervous system, new composite materials, silicon nanowire-based sensors, and much more. The tool will also support the recent significant growth of materials science and engineering education and outreach efforts at universities in the region, including the first materials engineering PhD program in the state (at Tulane) and programs such as the Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation (LAMP).