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New Equipment Magnifies Research Capabilities at the University of Oklahoma

September 11, 2023

New Equipment Magnifies Research Capabilities at the University of Oklahoma

University of Oklahoma faculty have received a combined nearly $3.4 million in grants to acquire three technologies that will advance OU researchers’ ability to conduct state-of-the-art materials research.

Two OU research teams have received Major Research Instrumentation awards from the National Science Foundation. These awards are designed to increase access to research instrumentation that supports training and collaboration across disciplines. A third team received a Defense University Research Instrumentation Program, or DURIP, award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. 

AC-STEM Microscope

Andy Elwood Madden, geosciences professor and director of the Samuel Roberts Noble Microscopy Lab at OU, is the principal investigator for a $2.5 million award from the NSF Major Research Instrumentation program that provides funds to acquire an aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscope. The microscope will allow researchers to simultaneously collect information about the structure and chemistry of a range of materials atom-by-atom.

“This instrument addresses multidisciplinary needs for imaging, chemical and structural analysis of materials from the atomic- to the micro-scale,” Elwood Madden said. “Aberration-correction unlocks entirely new capabilities not previously available in Oklahoma and will benefit researchers across our state and the region.”

The microscope will benefit exploratory and applied research in a range of fields, such as quantum technology, microelectronics, data-driven materials discovery and nanomaterials for sustainability.

Elwood Madden is the Joe and Robert Klabzuba Chair of the School of Geosciences in the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy. Co-principal investigators on the award include OU faculty Iman Ghamarian, Thirumalai Venkatesan, Ritesh Sachan and Steven Crossley.

Real-time Hybrid Simulation Testing System

P. Scott Harvey, Jr., associate professor in the Gallogly College of Engineering, is the principal investigator for a $589,262 award that will acquire a real-time hybrid simulation testing system for cyber-physical research and training. This testing system will support research into developing resilient infrastructure by improving researchers’ understanding of the complex behavior and performance of building materials and structural components when affected by natural hazards.

“This instrument will better replicate realistic loading conditions, including, for example, the impacts of natural hazards on the nation’s critical infrastructure,” Harvey said. “The new instrument will transform the way the multidisciplinary MRI team conducts research, and the structural materials and components validated using the instrument will help to mitigate economic, property and human losses caused by natural hazards, improving the well-being of individuals in society.”

In addition to Harvey, co-principal investigators include OU faculty Shreya Vemuganti, Andres Cavieres, Yingtao Liu and Jeffery Volz. Senior personnel include OU faculty Daniel Butko, Amy Cerato, Royce Floyd and Jonathan Hils. This project is jointly funded by the NSF Major Research Instrumentation Program, the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR, and the Engineering for Civil Infrastructure Program in the division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation.

NanoMill Ion Beam Milling System

Gallogly College of Engineering assistant professor Iman Ghamarian is the lead principal investigator of a $300,000 award from the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, U.S. Department of Defense, to acquire a Fischione 1040 nanoMill ion mill system that will help researchers prepare samples for transmission electron microscopy.

“The NanoMill acquisition through the DURIP award will be a key technology in OU’s strategy to build a world-class facility for materials research,” Ghamarian said. “The Fischione’s Model 1040 NanoMill transmission electron microscope specimen preparation system is an excellent tool for creating the high-quality thin specimens needed for advanced imaging and analysis. It is ideal for both post-FIB (focused ion beam) processing and the enhancement of conventionally prepared specimens.”

In addition to Ghamarian, this project team is supported by co-principal investigators OU faculty Yingtao Liu, Andrew Elwood Madden and Thirumalai Venkatesan.