Dr. Pnina Ari-Gur, WMU professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) research grant of $452,399 to acquire an advanced X-ray diffraction system with unique capabilities. It will be able to reveal structures down to the nano-scale, determine thickness of nano-layers, and so much more -- and all that at temperatures ranging from -160 °C to +600 °C.
Thanks to this NSF Major Research Instrumentation grant, researchers and students at Western Michigan University will be able to employ a sophisticated scientific instrument that is unavailable anywhere in Michigan. Participating with Ari-Gur are Clement Burns, physics; Paul Fleming, chemical and paper engineering; John Patten, industrial and entrepreneurial engineering; and Massood Atashbar, electrical and computer engineering.
The award, “Acquisition of an X-Ray Diffraction System for Nanostructured and Advanced Materials Research and Research Education and Outreach,” funds the purchase of a state-of-the-art X-ray diffraction (XRD) system that will support multidisciplinary research and education in institutions throughout West Michigan and beyond. This modern X-ray diffraction system enables cutting-edge research in nanotechnology, physics, materials science, chemistry, electrical engineering, and other areas.
The knowledge generated will be used to design new materials and processes, and “tailor” their structure and properties to meet specific demands, such as materials for green energy production, medical devices, sensors, flexible electronics, and more. The system will help educate future researchers by providing opportunities using modern research instrumentation. In addition, the university has strong outreach programs, including training and retaining science teachers, and providing opportunities for high school students. The instrument will greatly benefit these programs and attract students to STEM research as a career path. In addition to serving as a shared, multi-user, multi-purpose facility for WMU and other area institutions, it will also be used by local high-tech businesses.
“I am very excited about this award,” Ari-Gur said. “It will open so many new opportunities. I can hardly wait to have the XRD system here and bring it to operation.”
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