The UMD College of Science and Engineering has been awarded a $400,000 grant by the National Science Foundation for the purchase of a high-tech scanning electron microscope (SEM).
According to UMD Professor of Geological Sciences John Goodge, the very specialized electron microscope is capable of extraordinarily high resolution imaging allowing UMD scientists to see in much more fine detail than possible with a regular light microscope. For example, it can provide, in great detail, a look into the complex structure of the eye of a very small fly-- as one might see in a science museum or text book.
"It will be a virtual 'toolbox,'" says Professor Goodge, "providing UMD faculty and researchers with many capabilities for detailed analyses which were never before possible."
"We will be able to examine the chemical composition of materials and look very closely at their internal structure in order to understand their growth and the conditions under which they were formed," said Professor Goodge. "In the geological sciences this will help us to understand how the earth was formed, and how it may be changing."
In addition, the scanning microscope will operate at near atmospheric pressure-allowing examination of organisms that would otherwise vastly shrivel up under the high vacuums of other high-powered microscopes. It can be employed with a variety of materials, both living and non-living, and is about the size of the average refrigerator.
The SEM will be used both for teaching and research in the departments of geological sciences, biology, chemical engineering and mechanical engineering, and will be available to outside non-profit and industry groups. Plans are for it to be installed (located in the Chemistry Building) by early 2008.
"We are immensely pleased to obtain this new state-of-the-art microscope," said Professor Goodge. "It is a very important step for UMD to be able to characterize a wide variety of materials used in many areas of research at the university. It will provide a powerful cornerstone for a multi-disciplinary analytical facility at UMD."