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UW-Eau Claire Receives
National Science Foundation Grant
MAILED: Nov. 28, 2001
EAU CLAIRE — With the help of a $204,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and additional funding from the university through the offices of Provost and Vice Chancellor Ronald Satz and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Ted Wendt, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire department of physics and astronomy will soon be acquiring an X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy system to use for faculty and student research.
Assistant professor of physics and astronomy Doug Dunham, assistant professor of physics and astronomy Matt Evans, assistant professor of chemistry Mark McEllistrem and professor of physics and astronomy Kim Pierson were involved with the grant and have planned research projects.
Evans and McEllistrem recently worked to obtain a NSF grant for a scanning tunneling microscope, an instrument that will be used in conjunction with the XPS.
"These instruments are found primarily at research institutions where graduate students, not undergraduates, have access to them," said Doug Dunham, principal investigator of the grant. "This is a unique opportunity for undergraduates here at UW-Eau Claire to use a state-of-the-art materials research tool to do original research."
The XPS will make it possible to analyze the element concentration and chemical state of a material's surface by measuring the photoelectrons released when the surface is irradiated by X-rays.
Dunham's research will involve silicon carbide, a semiconductor that retains its properties at higher temperatures than silicon. Silicon is the chief semiconductor used in device applications today, but silicon carbide is the better choice for high-temperature, high-power and high-speed applications.
"In order to make devices we need to understand how the material interacts with its environment," Dunham said. "My research will involve how various materials such as oxygen, nitrogen and metals interact with the surface of silicon carbide."
Dunham said the university also plans to involve local high technology companies in some of the projects.
"This instrument provides a unique capability in the area," Dunham said. "Companies may be interested in having a project analyzed to see the effect of a production process."
The XPS components should arrive next spring and enable faculty and students to assemble the machine by the end of the semester. During the summer, tests will be performed to get the machine ready for the fall 2002 semester.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Nov. 28, 2001