MRI: Acquisition of an Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope

Project: Research project

Project Details


Acquisition of an Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope (ESEM) by Penn State Erie, represents a significant investment in undergraduate focused basic and applied research; it will enable industry-university collaborations in fundamental science that quickly pave the way for real economic impact as the region benefits from the application of advanced material science, biological, health-related and chemical research. This ESEM will be a resource to the research communities throughout the PA/OH/NY tristate area with influences extending nationally and internationally via collaborative research efforts, providing employment for world-class scientists and technologists in the region. Existing robust industrial research engagement will further expand, and advanced microscopy will no longer be outsourced from the region, eliminating a significant impediment to economic development initiatives. An open-lab access is expected to make the instrument available to other universities and numerous high schools in the region. The ESEM user community will not be confined to the research elite. This instrument will be an important new resource in an established, far reaching K-12 STEM program to impact all levels of education in the region. Because of the exceedingly practical and user-friendly interface of the ESEM, programs will engage a broad user base of diverse socio-economic backgrounds that will become exposed to regional scientific developments and hence offered the opportunity to explore options in regional STEM-driven industry.

The primary objective of this proposal is to facilitate increased basic and applied research activity across the Schools of Engineering and Science at Penn State Erie, to be a resource for other academic and industrial entities in the region. Projects focused on polymers, plastic formulations, metals processing technologies, fuel cell development, biological systems, environmental science, paleoecology and many others will greatly benefit by the project. This acquisition provides expanded scientific capability at a College where the majority of the internal and funded research activity is executed by undergraduate students. This relatively new model, based on an Open Laboratory environment, provides direct exposure to real industry research and development problems for undergraduates at various stages of their academic training. In collaboration with faculty and industry sponsors, students will be given the opportunity to explore fundamental material phenomena and develop viable practical solutions based on their investigations. The instrument identified for acquisition has unique capability to provide functionality across a wide range of disciplines and places state of the art material characterization technology at the direct disposal of undergraduate students. The acquisition will have several very important broader impacts. As the range of offered courses at the college continues to expand, new emphasis is placed on exploring fundamental concepts, particularly in engineering and science. For instance, a new major is planned in polymer engineering and science that will be complementary to the long established plastics engineering technology option. The availability of an ESEM will attract both faculty and students who are interested in the interfaces between structure, property, and processing of materials. The ESEM will also become an important regional resource since no such capability is publicly available within a convenient distance of the greater Erie metropolitan area. Many industrial relationships that would benefit from the proposed acquisition while providing valuable research exposure to the undergraduate students.

Effective start/end date9/1/158/31/16


  • National Science Foundation: $662,886.00


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