This project is upgrading the ability of researchers at the Stevens Institute of Technology to study the structure of advanced materials by replacing a 25-year old transmission electron microscope with a new and modern microscope. The new microscope is able to take advantage of computer control and digital image acquisition that has transformed such instruments over the past decade. The new microscope is used by a broad and interdisciplinary group of professors and their students to study advanced materials being developed for applications in healthcare and in energy, including materials used in biomedical implants such as hip and knee replacements as well as materials used to make flexible solar cells. The new microscope is also used in lecture and laboratory courses as well as in one-on-one mentoring to train students about the microscopic structure of advanced materials and how this structure can be quantitatively studied with modern transmission electron microscopes. The microscope is essential to a broad array of graduate students pursuing their doctoral dissertation research.
This Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) project provides funds to purchase a JEOL 1400 transmission electron microscope. This instrument is a 120 keV thermionic (LaB6) microscope, and it is optimized for cryo-electron microscopy, tomography, and diffraction-contrast and mass-thickness-contrast imaging. It replaces a 25 year-old microscope purchased in 1992 partly with NSF funding. Six specific projects are being substantially advanced with this new microscope, including two projects led by women Faculty members. One research project is developing infection-resisting biomaterials. Another is developing advanced scaffolds for tissue engineering. A third is developing gold nanostructures for monitoring focal-adhesion formation. The other three projects fall within the energy space. One is developing a new materials platform for high-temperature label-free sensing. Another pursues novel cryo-microscopy experiments involving organic solvents in order to understand solvent-induced gel formation and create organic solar cells using scalable processing methods. The third uses tomography to characterize network formation involving magnetic nanoparticles. These core projects, as well as other research projects, all require the spatial and image resolution afforded by transmission electron microscopy in order for them to advance.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.