The National Science Foundation has awarded $431,200 to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Department of Physics to facilitate the purchase of a new highly-specialized imaging system - the first of its kind in Alabama - that will be a centerpiece of a new interdisciplinary research laboratory on campus.
Project directors, including physicists Andrei Stanishevsky, Ph.D., and Yogesh Vohra, Ph.D., plan to acquire an X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy System (XPS) with micro-scale-imaging capabilities and develop a new materials-characterization facility in the UAB Center for Nanoscale Materials and Biointegration using the equipment.
"The UAB acquisition of imaging XPS will create a unique experimental facility that should have many positive implications for advancing research in many disciplines, from physics and chemistry to biomedical engineering and materials science," Vohra said.
XPS is a chemical-analysis technique used to determine the composition of very thin layers of solid materials. Imaging XPS also can map the variations in surface chemical composition with a micrometer resolution. This gives researchers the ability to understand the properties and bonding capabilities of newly designed materials that could be used improve the performance of health-care devices, among other uses.
"There are similar XPS systems being used right now in Alabama to analyze the critical features of micro- and nano-scale materials, but the equipment we will bring to UAB will be the first in the state with imaging capabilities," Stanishevsky said. "The imaging capability will allow our researchers to physically see and more closely examine surface chemistry and impurities in the materials we are studying.
"Most of our research projects deal with novel technological materials that have been surface modified by different chemical and physical methods; being able to understand the components of these materials will have a colossal impact on the productivity of our research," he said.
The equipment could arrive on campus as early as January 2010. Once installed, the imaging XPS facility at UAB will open for use by researchers, including UAB partner Alabama State University and non-academic agencies.
Other project directors at UAB are Derrick Dean, Ph.D., associate professor of materials science and engineering; Ho-Wook Jun, assistant professor of biomedical engineering; and Sergey Vyazovkin, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry.