NIAR acquires the latest high-resolution microscope

9:26:53 AM CDT - Friday, March 26, 2004

WSU's National Institute for Aviation Research has purchased a high-resolution microscope, packed full of features that will allow high-tech analysis in such research areas as aviation, biomedicine and forensics.

NIAR acquired the $200,000 scanning electron microscope (SEM) at the beginning of March, thanks to the $4 million in federally appropriated funds the organization received in fiscal year 2003. The money also helped re-establish the SEM lab that had been defunct for more than four years. Before NIAR's purchase, any research requiring SEMs was done through the geology department, which had acquired NIAR's older SEM when the lab went defunct.

"I'm excited that we're getting back on our feet again," NIAR research associate Brijesh Kumar said. "With this microscope, we're going to be able to conduct some astounding research."

The microscope is one of the latest models made by JEOL, a company that specializes in electron microscopy and mass spectrometry. Compared to earlier models, the JSM-6460LV has features that make it useful in many different fields.

The microscope can be used for research in several of NIAR's labs, including the aging aircraft, composites and advanced materials, structure and fatigue and fracture labs. Forensic scientists can use it to analyze materials in crime scene investigations, accident reconstruction, toxicology, and arson investigations, just to name a few. Chemists can use the SEM to detect toxins such as dioxin.

Its ability to magnify up to 100,000 times with a resolution of 3 nanometers makes this microscope stand out from the others. Although many SEMs are capable of a high magnification picture, the high resolution allows the image to be clearer than before. The SEM also is able to look at things 8 inches in diameter and 80 millimeters in height. The specimen chamber can move the materials 360 degrees, as well as tilt in all directions.

The microscope also has a low vacuum mode feature, which allows high-resolution examination of composite specimens such as plastics and other non-conducting materials without prepping the surface.

The new microscope will be available to WSU researchers outside of NIAR. To use the microscope, contact Kumar at 978-6139 or  brijesh.kumar@wichita.edu.

To explore more of the microscope's features, visit the JEOL Web site at http://www.jeol.com/sem/semprods/jsm6460.html.

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