Oswego State invests in research

new S.E.M. in Snygg
Photo taken by Avery Galek | The Oswegonian

Oswego State has purchased a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) in hopes of participating with the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI).

Together with software needed to operate the machine, the microscope cost about $240,000. Another suite of updates to be added in November will cost an additional $80,000. The college did not receive a grant for the current equipment.

“That shows the great support from the president’s office and provost’s office for science and research,” professor Fehmi Damkaci said.

The microscope, which is most often used for material science, can magnify materials up to 100,000 times human eyesight. This means scientists are able to see 100 atoms clustered together at one time, as well as an individual atom. The microscope, which is about the size of large chest freezer, currently resides on Snygg Hall’s second floor, but it will be moved to the Science Complex once the building is completed and Syngg is demolished.

SEMs are widely used in nanotechnology, specifically in new material designs and new material development, according to Damkaci. It can be used in many fields, including archeology. The SEM can diagnose artifacts by examining their compositions, providing a practical use in historical research. The medical field also highly demands nanotechnology when developing innovative materials, a leading element in cancer treatment.

NNI, a federal program, was created in 1999 to fund and support nanotechnology education and research in the U.S. Since 2000, it has been funded more than $12 billion. As of 2010, its budget exceeds $1.8 billion, making it the second most highly funded science program behind NASA’s federally funded space program.

The National Nanotechnology Initiative focuses on Ph.D. research and understanding nanotechnology and products, said Damkaci, who works in the chemistry department. Within the next five years, more courses concerning nanotechnology will be offered as part of undergraduate education.

“Right now this is a federal program, and we’re just catching it before it even gets started,” Damkaci said. “So we can say that Oswego is kind of ahead in terms of being an undergraduate institution and making this technology available to undergraduate students and research.”

Nanotechnology may be essential in the future of the industry, because it provides innovative, usable materials.

Currently, Oswego State has been welcoming new faculty members who have training in nanotechnology.

“We have around eight to 10 faculty members who are interested in using a SEM,” Damkaci said. “We have applied for a grant before. And when you look at the list of names it’s not just for the use of chemistry, but an interest from multiple departments.”

This list of potential participants names Damkaci as the probable leader. Members will discuss possible funding, research and grant opportunities together. The mission and use of the SEM is to educate students for careers, create a multi-disciplinary platform, build partnerships and provide educational resources.