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ISU Is Awarded NSF Grant For State-Of-The-Art Microscope

Written by on April 1, 2022

Photo courtesy from Illinois State University 

NORMAL, Ill–Illinois State has been awarded a $403,900 grant from the Nation Science Foundation. The grant has been approved and will be used for a state-of-the-art electron microscope that will help both research and students at ISU.

Dr. Mahua Biswas shared details how she and her department received the grant for this new technology.

“Every year congress gives money for science, technology, and research. The National Science foundation has decided to give federal funding for university’s, more specifically for professors who are doing research. So if we apply, we have to prove that we can do the work,” she said.  “The review process is strict, they approve very few proposals.”

A field emission scanning electron microscope (FESEM), the instrument can take images of nano-sized objects of different kinds, enabling users to detect intimate details and properties. Biswas put it in more simple terms–if a particle was the size of the planet Earth, a nanoparticle would be one soccer ball sitting on the planet.

“[The microscope] strikes the sample, then the force from the strike emits a scan to the user.”

Biswas went on to explain who has access to the instrument.

“Twenty professors from Illinois State University, Bradley, University of Illinois, and Illinois Wesleyan University. They are mostly from biology, chemistry, and geology, and technology.” She continued “I proposed to work with k-12 schools. Right now I’m in contact with University High and Metcalf teachers. They expressed interest in the instrument. Sometimes we will bring students here to show them the instrument and it’s images, and they can learn some of the basics in the instrument.”

The state-of-the-art microscope is expected to arrive sometime over the summer, it will be at Illinois State for the fall semester.