West Virginia University will be poised to help improve the efficiency of electronic devices, develop smaller and more reliable data storage devices, advance solar energy conversion equipment, create new inroads in health care technology and uncover a host of other innovative discoveries as a result of a $468,389 grant from the National Science Foundation that will fund acquisition of some very high technology research equipment.

David Lederman, Robert C. Byrd Professor of Physics in the WVU Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, and a member of WVNano, is principal investigator on the proposal that attracted the NSF funding. He said the grant will enable the university to purchase and install a pulsed laser deposition system – scientific equipment that will have far-reaching implications for research not only at WVU but at regional public and private sites as a result of WVU’s leadership of the WVNano Initiative.

Nanotechnology involves working with and manipulating matter on extremely small scales for a wide variety of applications. Nanotechnology offers potential for new technologies and applications because when materials are reduced to the nanoscale, they have different properties compared to their original size. As a result, manipulation of materials at the nanoscale level can lead to development of innovative new approaches to major scientific problems from energy production to medical care. The new equipment will advance that activity through WVNano.

“WVNano is very fortunate to have faculty members like David Lederman who devote significant amounts of effort to projects that impact more than just their own personal research,” Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, director of WVNano said. “Developing infrastructure—like the Shared Facilities in which this instrument will reside—is an absolute necessity for WVNano to be competitive on a national scale.”

The WVNano Initiative is West Virginia’s focal point for nanoscale science, engineering, education, research, workforce development, and economic development. The initiative’s central objective is to foster an interdisciplinary research environment and diversify the state’s economic base through cultivation and growth of research in targeted areas.

“The pulsed laser deposition system is a technique designed to fabricate nanoscale structures with high chemical and structural precision,” Lederman explained. “When combined with other advanced tools, it will have great impact on a wide-range of energy and health care technologies.”

Lederman explained that the new research equipment, to be installed over the next 12 months, will have a positive effect not only on WVU research but also on regional research for other institutions of higher education and regional industries.

“Because the new equipment will be incorporated into the WVNano’s Shared Facilities once it is installed, the system will be made available to a large number of students, postdocs, and faculty, both at WVU, other universities, and private companies in the region,” he said. “The instrument will also tie into the WVNano’s outreach programs that target underrepresented minorities and women from the State of WV and the Appalachian region. Because users are trained to operate the WVNano instruments, skills useful for the students’ future careers will be developed.”

In particular, the research enabled by the new equipment can lead to more energy-efficient electronic devices, smaller and more reliable data storage devices, biomolecular sensors for real-time monitoring, better coatings for biomedical implants, improved solar energy conversion devices, and more efficient fuel cells for energy.

“This equipment and the capabilities it will bring are not currently available at WVU,” Lederman said. “The NSF funding will allow us to take a significant step forward in nano research.”


CONTACT: Gerrill Griffith, WVU Research Corp.
304-293-3743; gerrill.griffith@mail.wvu.edu

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