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Posted: October 3, 2008

$1.14 million grant to fund nanoscience equipment

(Nanowerk News) Northwest Missouri State University has received a $1.14 million federal grant that will be used to equip nanoscience laboratories in the University’s new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
When completed next year, the high-technology business incubator and academic facility will house corporate tenants and the University’s newly formed Graduate Applied Research Center. The CIE will also include laboratories and classrooms for Northwest’s new nanoscience undergraduate degree program, courses for which are scheduled to begin in 2009.
“This federal appropriation is a great boost to the nanoscale program at Northwest,” said Dr. Charles McAdams, dean of the University’s College of Arts and Sciences. “These funds will allow students to conduct research using cutting-edge equipment not available to undergraduates at most institutions.”
The idea behind the CIE is to link technology-centered commercial enterprises with the academic resources available at a state university. Corporate tenants will benefit from research and development activities carried out by students and faculty while providing students and new graduates with real-world experience as interns, technicians and employees.
“The fully equipped center will enable Northwest to establish itself as a leader in nanoscience education and, consequently, to attract both students and well-qualified faculty,” McAdams said. “In addition, this important federal appropriation is planting the seeds of success for a partnership between higher education and business that will help Missouri by creating jobs and preparing our best and brightest young people for today’s high-tech workplace.”
Applied nanoscience is the study of methods and processes used to manipulate bits of matter so small they are measured in nanometers -- billionths of a meter. Scientists are increasingly able to employ such particles as tiny machines capable of such applications as precisely delivering drugs to diseased tissue or serving as components in ultra-miniaturized computers.
The $1.14 million federal grant to Northwest will allow the University to purchase two research-grade instruments essential for doing nanoscale science: a scanning electron microscope, or SEM, and an atomic force microscope, or AFM.
An SEM shoots a beam of electrons at materials to be studied and produces viewable images of objects that are only a few nanometers wide. An AFM uses a small needle to tap across material, thus mapping its surface.
In addition to the SEM and AFM, the grant will allow the University to purchase equipment used in the synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials, including a gas chromatographer-mass spectrometer (GC-MS) designed to identify different substances within a test sample.
Federal funding will also pay for eight ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometers capable of determining the intensity of various wavelengths across the visible and adjacent near ultraviolet (UV) and near infrared (NIR) ranges, and a small scanning tunneling microscope that uses electric current to map the surface of conductive materials.
Source: Northwest Missouri State University