MRI: Acquisition of an Atomic Force Microscope Equipped with Triboscope Nanoindentation and NanoIR Spectroscopy Capabilities

Project: Research project

Project Details


This Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) award supports the acquisition of an Atomic Force Microscope with a triboscope for new material discoveries and microstructural characterization. The instrumentation will support fundamental research by a multidisciplinary group of researchers at Penn State Erie and foster collaborations with nearby institutions. It will enhance undergraduate involvement in the frontiers of material research and K-12 outreach activities to promote STEM recruitment, particularly among women, minorities and the economically disadvantaged.

Fundamental research will be conducted in the areas of fiber composites, advanced polymeric materials and the characterization of solar cell efficiencies. A potentially transformative aspect of this work is the coupled testing modalities-- nanoindentation and IR spectroscopy--that can provide much-needed insights on material response when subjected to multiphysical conditions. The instrumentation will enable the researchers to determine mechanical properties such as hardness and elastic modulus using specialized rigid test probes at the micro and nanometer scales. The NanoIR spectroscopy provides topographical images of the sample surface and characterizes the chemical composition of materials with high spatial resolution. This enables advances in fundamental understanding of interfacial chemical composition, interfacial uniformity, morphology and properties of transition layer and resin permeability at a sub nanometer resolution. Local characterization of microstructural properties (NanoIR), coupled with local mechanical properties (Triboscope), allows the researchers to link microstructural properties to stochastic material behavior at a larger scale.

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.

Effective start/end date1/1/187/31/21


  • National Science Foundation: $412,315.00


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