Research Conducted at the NMCF Advances Sustainable Development and Human Health
At UVA Engineering's Nanoscale Materials Characterization Facility, researchers collaborate to produce new knowledge about the properties and applications of nanomaterials.
The NMCF's state-of-the-art equipment enables the reliable detection, characterization and quantification of nanomaterials. A collegial approach to doing business accelerates scientific discovery and knowledge-sharing. By adding rigor and certainty to the behavior of novel and known nanomaterials, research scientists can improve how we manufacture industrial goods and medical devices, engineer electronics, produce energy and protect the environment.
To protect members of the community during the novel coronavirus outbreak, the NMCF is temporarily closed. In place of an on Grounds visit, this photo essay opens a window into the research conducted at the NMCF through the eyes of its faculty and students.
Nanoscale Materials Characterization Facility Director James M. Howe, Kiumars Aryana and Eric Hoglund look at a calcium titanite superlattice made visible with the help of a Titan high-resolution transmission electron microscope. Aryana is Ph.D. student advised by Patrick E. Hopkins, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. Hoglund is finishing up his dissertation research under Howe’s guidance and plans to pursue a post-doc in microscopy. (Photo by Tom Cogill)
Niquana Smith monitors progress of the NMCF’s X-ray diffractometer, which she is using to identify phase changes of a hafnium-containing crystal that was subjected to plasma sintering. X-ray diffraction is a technique for determining the 3-D arrangement of atoms or molecules in a material. Smith, a graduate student in materials science and engineering, pursues research in sustainable energy, advised by Elizabeth J. Opila, professor of materials science and engineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering. (Photo by Tom Cogill)
David Roache calibrates a tensile loading stage at the NMCF’s field emission scanning electron microscope before conducting in-situ mechanical testing of a ceramic fiber, ceramic matrix composite. Roache is a Ph.D. student of mechanical and aerospace engineering advised by Rolls-Royce Commonwealth Professor Xiaodong (Chris) Li. (Photo by Tom Cogill)
Helge Heinrich and Hoglund view the progress of an automatically acquired electron back-scatter diffraction map of an aluminum alloy at the NMCF’s Helios focused ion beam system. This system is additionally used for chemical analysis of materials and to prepare samples for transmission electron microscopy. Heinrich is a materials research scientist at the NMCF. (Photo by Tom Cogill)
Zach Harris and Hoglund examine the microstructure of an additively manufactured polished steel sample using the electron backscatter diffraction system on the NMCF’s Helios focused ion beam system. Harris is a post-doc in a research group led by James T. Burns, associate professor of materials science and engineering. Harris’ research focuses on understanding the interrelationships between processing, structure and mechanical properties for structural alloys exposed to aggressive environments. (Photo by Tom Cogill)
UVA Engineering research scientist Catherine Dukes inserts a sample of left-handed glutamic acid adsorbed onto <101> quartz into the NMCF’s state-of-the-art imaging X-ray photoelectron spectrometer. Dukes will get a precise look at the composition of the sample’s outermost atomic layers and how amino acid molecules are chemically bonded to the chiral substrate. (Photo by Chris Tyree)
The NMCF houses a Themis Z monochromated high-resolution scanning transmission electron microscope, one of fewer than 10 in the world. Heinrich inspects connections at the sample holder near the vertical mid-point of the microscope, which stands from floor to ceiling. It can record vibrational modes of materials and enables the study of materials’ chemical and electromagnetic properties at the atomic level. (Photo by Tom Cogill)
Joe Thompson, a laboratory specialist at the NMCF, demonstrates how to align the laser on an atomic force microscope. To the left is a Raman microscope with its motorized stage, which Thompson uses to characterize samples for research conducted in partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation. (Photo by Tom Cogill)
Samantha Jaszewski and Diane Dickie inspect a hafnium-zirconium-oxide thin film that could be used for electronic devices. Jaszewski, a Ph.D. student of Jon Ihlefeld, associate professor of materials science and engineering, is studying the crystal structure of these materials using one of the NMCF’s X-ray diffractometers. Dickie, the NMCF’s senior scientist in X-ray diffraction, works with students across UVA Engineering to help them collect and interpret diffraction data from polycrystalline samples including powders, thin films and bulk materials. (Photo by Tom Cogill)