Building and Supporting the EM Facility
Sept. 2010: National Science Foundation Awards EM Facility Funds for Purchase of a NEW Analytical Scanning Electron Microscope
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
In April 2010, a grant proposal was submitted to the National Science Foundation's Major Research Instrumentation program, seeking a new scanning electron microscope.
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.