High-powered microscopes unveiled

Monday, March 21, 2005

DENTON (UNT), Texas - Scientists and students in the Center for Advanced Research and Technology (CART) at the University of North Texas now have the opportunity to think big by starting extremely small -- looking at molecules and atoms.

This new branch of research at UNT started with two new, highly advanced electron microscopes that were unveiled March 22 (Tuesday) at UNT's Research Park Campus (located at 3940 North Elm in Denton, east of Interstate 35 and near the juncture of U.S. Highway 77 and Loop 288).

The instruments are a dual-beam focused ion beam/scanning electron microscope -- performing at the nanometer (one billionth of a meter) level -- and an analytical high-resolution transmission electronic microscope -- performing at the atomic level. Both instruments were manufactured by the FEI Company, an internationally recognized maker of "Tools for Nanotech" ™ that has entered into a formal partnership with UNT researchers.

Using the microscopes separately and together (they are located in adjoining laboratories), UNT researchers aim to transform their academic research into actual products via a better understanding of the way materials behave at the nanometer and atomic levels and the ability to manipulate these materials.

According to UNT President Norval Pohl, the combined capabilities of these two instruments are unique in the southwestern U.S. and place UNT in an exclusive position both regionally and nationally.

The CART researchers say potential products that may result from this new capability for state-of-the-art materials characterization include:

·        Lightweight armor for both humans and vehicles for the military, national defense and Homeland Security;

·        New bonding materials for NASA spacecraft and the aircraft industry;

·        New, longer-lasting materials for hip and knee implantations; and

·        New materials for automotive, aerospace and construction industries.

The microscopes were purchased with a $3.1 million grant from the U.S. Congress in the 2004 Defense Appropriations bill.

U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, who rallied support for the UNT appropriation, has commended UNT for its foresight in investing in nanotechnology and for taking the first steps to serve as the North Texas region's research arm in this rapidly evolving new science. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison sponsored the measure in the U.S. Senate. Working on the 2005 Defense Appropriations bill, Burgess and Hutchison teamed up once again to place a $4.8 million authorization for UNT's CART.

Note to Reporters:

Dr. Michael J. Kaufman, professor and chair of the Department of Material Science and Engineering, and Dr. Brian P. Gorman, assistant professor of Material Science and Engineering, can discuss how they use the new microscopes in their CART research and in their teaching. In addition, they can explain how the instruments work and how they will impact our lives.

Dr. Oscar Garcia, founding dean of the UNT College of Engineering and professor of Computer Science and Engineering, can talk about how the new microscopes contribute to the research capabilities of his college.

UNT President Norval F. Pohl can discuss how the new microscopes benefit research prospects for the university.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108