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Research Team

Nanotechnology in Grove City: Part Two

Nanostructures- Seeing the What Cannot be Seen

Dr. Wolinski of the Grove City College Physics Department leads a study on the development and uses of Gallium Oxide nanowires. Six young men of the department work week after week tuning machines and making discoveries on the possibility of building bridges micrometers wide. Part Two consists of Zachary Johnson and Ryan King, programming and running tests with the SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope). The device images, engraves, and scans samples to give the team a good view of their work.

Zachary Johnson- Introducing the SEM

Zach begins today’s journey with the SEM. He does much of the actual sample scanning for the group. After Seth Byard creates a sample, he sends it to Zach to take some photos. Zach fits cut up silicon wafers into the SEM and vacuum seals the electron chamber for a clear image. After that, most of his work takes place on the computer, isolating the micrometers of area he wants to photograph. Inside the chamber, electrons bombard the sample and bounce off every which way. A specialized sensor inside can follow the motion of electrons and generate an image of what they bounced off of. At this point, Zach zooms and refocuses repeatedly until he has gone in far enough and has a clear image. The electron beam can focus in to allow for better photos, and can even concentrate enough to carve the samples themselves!

Ryan King- Software to Keep the Electrons Scanning

However, in order to use the SEM at all, Zach must control dozens of variables at the time, an arduous process for sure. Yet Ryan has come to solve this problem. His job for the research team is to create a program for the SEM, a job requested by the manufacturers themselves! Tescan, the company that built the SEM, has quite a number of clients who cannot keep track of the variables. In fact, they have a number of buyers who break their machines by running too many parameters at once. Ryan’s program keeps track of the parameters running and gives updates about them- warning users of dangerous situations before they run out of time. Ryan’s work is a pivotal part of the research, and is quite impressive to boot.

If you enjoyed this article, make sure to check out the video in the link below for the full story!

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