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BME NEWSLETTER FALL 2013

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Powerful electron microscope will enhance teaching and research

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Thanks to a $769,444 grant from the National Science Foundation, the College of Engineering is now the home to the Detroit area’s first environmental scanning electron microscope.

The powerful microscope can be used to scientifically characterize wet, oily, porous, and soft materials that are traditionally considered impossible to study using conventional microscopy techniques, according to Assistant Professor Yawen Li, the principal investigator for the NSF grant.

This will greatly enhance a variety of research activities conducted at Lawrence Tech and its collaborating institutions in biomaterials, orthopedics, tissue engineering, construction materials, automotive components, and lithium ion batteries.

In addition to its use as both a teaching and research tool at Lawrence Tech, the new microscope, which was delivered in February, also will be used for research projects at Wayne State University, Oakland University, the William Beaumont Research Institute, and the General Motors Research and Development Center.

The microscope’s credentials are impressive, if not downright mind-boggling. It can produce high-resolution images of a sample surface, revealing details less than a nanometer (one-billionth of a meter) in size. To put this into perspective, a very fine human hair is about 10,000 nanometers wide. The maximum magnification of more than 500,000 times is about 250 times the magnification limit of the best light microscopes.

“The environmental scanning electron materials research infrastructure at Lawrence Tech and our partnering institutions, and enhance the research and educational experiences of a large number of students at Lawrence Tech and other universities,” Li said.

Students Stacy Kaiser and Erick Blank receive instruction from Assistant Professor Yawen Li on how to operate Lawrence Tech’s new environmental scanning electron microscope.

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