EM Facility Funding


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Building and Supporting the EM Facility

Sept. 2010: National Science Foundation Awards EM Facility Funds for Purchase of a NEW Analytical Scanning Electron Microscope

Startup funds

In August of 1995, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Trinity College $221K with a 50% match by the College to purchase equipment for new transmission electron microscopy (TEM) facilities to support the natural sciences at our institution and to complement the scanning electron microscope (SEM) and atomic force microscope (AFM) already on campus. Upon award of the grant, the College located space and constructed two new TEM laboratories, one in the Life Sciences Center and one in the McCook Building. Construction of the labs (and finding funds with which to do so) was a protracted process, and several extensions were granted by NSF. The first course based on the new labs was offered in Fall 1998. Other courses and modules have followed, including intensive short-courses in both TEM and SEM.

Donations and other funding sources

Once the facility began to take shape, donations in the form of funds and instrumentation from corporate entities were sought and acquired. Major donors include the DeCamp Foundation, Pfizer, Intel, Pratt & Whitney, Philips Semiconductor, STEM Inc., PPG Industries and, most recently, Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals (Summer 2007). In addition, the Science Alliance Advisory Board targeted substantial funds to enable specific capabilities in the EM Facility.

Individuals with an interest in promoting EM at Trinity have contributed invaluable expertise, as well as valuable non-consumables such as diamond knives.

In April 2010, a grant proposal was submitted to the National Science Foundation's Major Research Instrumentation program, seeking a new scanning electron microscope.

Current value

From the original NSF grant, donations, and other college contributions, the EM Facility has acquired equipment exceeding $3M in replacement value, with two TEMs and an SEM - all three outfitted with digital image acquisition capability, and x-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy capabilities installed on one of the TEMs plus the SEM - a fully-equipped sample preparation facility, and darkrooms for both life and materials sciences. Elsewhere on campus, another SEM, an AFM (atomic force microscope), and an STM (scanning tunneling microscope) represent additional value.

Support of ongoing operations

To support the EM Facility across the sciences, the Trinity College Administration approved an operating budget commencing in the second half of FY99 to maintain not only the instruments but a baseline level of supplies for core operation. In its first six months, this budget enabled an intensive summer workshop in EM for faculty and students and helped support 8 research students. That tradition continues. In Fall 2001, the Administration enabled the replacement of its 25-year-old 120-kV TEM with a newer fully analytical TEM/STEM as well as an SEM, both housed in the McCook Building. The College Administration continues to provide ongoing support for the Facility, the development of new courses and course modules, and student research. There are student projects that run through the academic year, and their like continue up to the present and into the summer of 2010. They represent explorations in Biology, Environmental Science, Engineering, and Chemistry.

Summary of new and upcoming instrumentation updates and additions

Updates or repairs to existing instrumentation occur continually as they are needed, and new capabilities are added whenever feasible. The full list of EM Facililty instrumentation may be found here.

Summer 2011: A new Variable-Pressure Scanning Electron Microscope will be installed with x-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS) and micro x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (uXRF), multiple SE and BSE detectors, cathodoluminescence detector, a 5-axis motorized stage, and digital image capture capabilities.

January 2011: A new bottom-mount high-resolution (2K x 2K) digital camera from AMT was installed on the CM12 TEM.

Spring/Summer 2010: Two Epson Professional large-format (to 14" x 20") archival quality R3800 printers are being installed to replace the Epson 980N printers (c. 2003). Summer 2009: An upgraded side-mount digital camera (1Kx1K) from AMT was installed on the CM12 TEM to replace the original (c. 1997) model.

Spring 2009: A Chamberscope was installed on the SEM to facilitate specimen exchange, stage movement, and multiple simultaneous detector manipulations.

Fall 2008: X-ray and backscattered electron image mapping were added to the suite of SEM capabilities.

Summer 2008: Light-element detector upgrades for both of the analytical EMs (SEM and CM12 TEM) were installed during the summer.

Spring 2008: A new backscattered electron (BSE) detector was delivered and installed on the SEM.

Summer 2007: A generous in-kind donation was received from Boehringer-Ingelheim comprised of 4 major instruments for cryo-preparation of biological specimens.

Fall 2006: A new deionized water system was purchased jointly by all of the sciences and installed in the Life Sciences Center EM Prep Lab.

April 2005: The SEM moved from a shared labortory setting into newly renovated, dedicated quarters in the McCook Building.