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NDSU Electron Microscopy Center gains electron microscope

The NDSU Electron Microscopy Center has acquired a new high-resolution analytical scanning electron microscope through a Major Research Instrumentation grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Principal investigator on the grant is Kalpana Katti, university distinguished professor of civil engineering. Scott Payne and Jayma Moore from the center are co-principal investigators. Installation of the JEOL JSM-7600F is complete and available to NDSU researchers.

The 7600F is a field-emission scanning electron microscope (SEM) that magnifies up to one million times for visualization and imaging of nanoscale-sized objects and offers 1.5 nm resolution at 1kV accelerating voltage, giving unprecedented views of surface structural detail. In contrast, older instrumentation provides ultimate resolution of 3.5 nm at 30 kV. In addition to a highly stable probe current and upper and lower secondary-electron detectors, the new SEM is equipped with a retractable in-lens backscatter detector, a low-angle backscatter detector and a scanning transmission electron (STEM) detector, providing optimal tools to study the widest variety of sample materials. The 7600F features energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry with a fine electron probe to determine what elements are present in a sample in an area as small as a few tens of nanometers; high-quality elemental maps can be obtained efficiently.

Also in use are a JEOL cross-sectional polisher (CSP) and Buehler IsoMet 1000 precision sectioning saw for advanced sample preparation. The CSP uses a beam of argon gas that produces a clean, mirror-like, polished cross section of almost any material – hard, soft or mixed – without the sample distortion produced by mechanical polishing. The IsoMet saw uses a circular diamond blade to rapidly section materials from rocks to electronic components without introducing structural damage, leaving samples as free as possible from artificial defects.

Funded by an NSF grant for more than $500,000, the versatile and powerful instrumentation, along with the high-resolution analytical transmission electron microscope system operational since March, advances NDSU’s electron microscopy capabilities to state of the art. According to Katti, “This suite of SEMS and TEMs will significantly expand the research enterprise at NDSU in the field of materials and bring it to national and international prominence, as well as go a long way toward guiding and inspiring students toward high technology through outreach efforts to K-12 students in North Dakota.”

An open house is being planned. Researchers who want to use the new equipment can contact Moore or Payne at 1-8234.

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