MSE Briefs

Announcements and updates by the faculty and students of the UVA Department of Materials Science and Engineering





    NMCF makes the move into Research Phase II, allowing enhanced instrument access

    February 01, 2021

    The NMCF COVID Safety Plan for Research has been upgraded to Phase II occupancy levels.

    This allows increased access to NMCF instrumentation for students, faculty, and researchers.

    Several instrument spaces now allow double occupancy, with continued face covering use and maintainance of 6-ft spacing. Rooms that now allow double occupancy include spaces for: XRD, XCT, XRF, LV200 SEM, Hirox optical microscopy, sample preparation, sample cutting and polishing, Helios SEM / FIB, Zygo, and several post-processing rooms.

    More information about UVa's Phase II density levels can be found on the VPR's "Research Ramp Up Guidance" Webpage. Phase II allows select graduate students and experienced undergraduates* to return to the laboratory based on school prioritization to the essential nature of the work.

    * “Experienced Undergraduates” are students that have worked in a researcher’s lab for at least two months pre-COVID.




    NMCF Senior Scientist Dickie Named Chair of “Small Molecule” Scientific Interest Group

    December 03, 2020

    NMCF XRD & XCT Specialist Dr. Diane Dickie has been elected as the 2021 Chair Elect and 2022 Chair of the “Small Molecule” Scientific Interest Group for the American Crystallographic Association (ACA). The ACA is a  scientific organization founded in 1949 and dedicated to the promotion of atomic-scale molecular structure research. ACA's mission is to further scientific interactions that "will advance experimental and computational aspects of crystallography and diffraction. Understanding the nature of the forces that both control and result from the molecular and atomic arrangements in matter will help shed light on chemical interactions in nature." More information about the ACA and the activities of the more than one thousand members can be found on their website.

    Congratulations Diane!

     


    Ramped up Remote NMCF Instrument Training Makes the News

    November 09, 2020

    University of Virginia School of Engineering students, faculty and professional research staff now have an agile and safe way to train on sophisticated instruments housed within the Nanoscale Materials Characterization Facility.

    Lab manager Richard White created specialized instrument training videos featuring facility instrument scientists. Then, White and information technology specialist Ig Jakovac developed Zoom remote-training methodology and “driver’s tests” that allow users to complete required training and certification while following COVID-19 protection protocols.  

    Remote training on seven instruments in the Nanoscale Materials Characterization Facility began the first week of September. By the end of October, 12 students and post-doctoral researchers passed their driver’s tests and are now at work; remote training can now be completed on all the instruments.

    Cole Love-Baker, a Ph.D. student of mechanical and aerospace engineering, completed training on the Quanta 650 scanning electron microscope. Love-Baker works on the fabrication of carbon fibers, advised by Rolls-Royce Commonwealth Professor Xiaodong (Chris) Li in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

    Carbon fibers are a light-weight but expensive material used in the automotive industry; Love-Baker focuses on designing low-cost precursor materials such as polymers, which could make carbon fibers more attractive for military, aircraft and aerospace applications. Love-Baker’s research involves a lot of experimental work, including synthesis, mechanical testing, spectroscopy and microscopy.

    “The SEM is essential to the investigation of our carbon fibers,” Love-Baker said. “With high-precision measurements of a cross-sectional area, we can accurately characterize the fibers’ mechanical properties and make qualitative statements about the fibers’ structure and composition.”

    Love-Baker found a lot to like about the training experience and the training videos especially. He could observe how to operate the instrument without having to stand in close quarters with White or Joe Thompson, specialists in electron microscopy. After he reviewed the training videos, Love-Baker was ready for remote training, culminating in his driver’s test on the scanning electron microscope, evaluated by White and Thompson.

    “Richard and Joe do not go easy on us; we need to demonstrate that we understand both the functional theory and actual operation of the machine,” Love-Baker said.

    White and Thompson asked Love-Baker to lead them through the training session to prove he would use the machine correctly, from system checks upon entry in the lab to staging and imaging as well as trouble-shooting. Monitoring Love-Baker’s actions over Zoom, they could see how he was operating the instrument and the adjustments he was making.

    The driver’s test is also a learning experience. “They let me make mistakes and showed me how that affected image quality and other factors,” Love-Baker said.

    This creative combination of training videos and Zoom allows students to complete instrument training on-demand to meet research group publication deadlines and sponsored research milestones, while keeping their own course work on track.

    “The SEM will be crucial to my success here at UVA,” Love-Baker said.

    UVA Engineering Executive Dean Pamela M. Norris also had good things to say about this innovation. “I am proud of the Nanoscale Materials Characterization Facility and all of our research teams, which have risen to extraordinary challenges this year,” Norris said. “This type of innovation, along with excellent collaboration among our faculty, staff, students and school leadership, has positioned UVA Engineering to be even stronger when we emerge from this pandemic. It is exciting to see the bold ideas that will have a truly positive impact on society.”

    Learn more about UVA Engineering’s bold ideas and research to combat the pandemic by clicking here.


    NMCF Users Meeting for Phase 1 Policies

    June 24, 2020

    NMCF Phase 1 Startup Meeting to Clarify New Safety Procedures

    NMCF Manager, Richard White, will be hosting a remote informational meeting for all NMCF instrument users to clarify the new Phase 1 safety procedures that have been instituted. Please join Richard for a ZOOM Meeting on Monday, 29 June 2020 at 10AM for information and discussion on current NMCF instrument use. Connect via the Zoom Link below:

    Topic: NMCF Phase I Policy Meeting

    Time: Jun 29, 2020 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

    Join Zoom Meeting:

    https://virginia.zoom.us/j/94382902049