Penn State Behrend secures $412K NSF grant for atomic force microscope

Local News

Penn State Behrend has secured a grant from the National Science Foundation that will fund the purchase of an atomic force microscope.

The National Science Foundation has awarded Behrend a $412,000 grant that researchers will use to purchase the microscope, which can measure fractions of a nanometer – one-billionth of a meter – and will support research in materials and biological sciences.

The microscope, a Bruker Dimension Icon XR AFM, will be housed in the college’s Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center. It will be available to all faculty members in the School of Engineering and School of Science, and to researchers from other nearby colleges and companies. Students also will have access to it, once they have completed technical and safety trainings.

The instrument initially will be used to study fiber composites, polymer crystal formation and solar-cell efficiencies.

The NSF grant also will fund the purchase of a triboscope, which uses electrostatic force to determine the properties of materials at small scales.

Both instruments will be installed near the college’s scanning electron microscope.

“The XR AFM is state-of-the-art equipment that can determine both mechanical properties and chemical identification measurements at nano and sub-nanometer scales in both hard and soft materials,” said Seyed Hamid Reza Sanei, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and the principal investigator for the project. “This will open the door to new collaborations and research endeavors while providing powerful insight into material systems that already are being studied at Penn State Behrend, including polymers, metals and composites.”

Assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Seyed Hamid Reza Sanei, will lead weeklong summer workshops for faculty members and students at Behrend.

Faculty and students from other schools – including Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Gannon University and Mercyhurst University – also may attend, as can teachers who enroll in the college’s six-week Research Experience for Teachers program, which is open to educators in three states.

“Access to an atomic force microscope and triboscope will equip the region’s faculty with the tools to make new material discoveries,” Sanei said. “The instruments also support our Open Lab approach, creating new opportunities for collaboration and providing new and valuable resources to our industry and biomedical research partners.”

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