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A Nano-Imaging Open House

April 16, 2008 – The University of Utah will hold an open house on Thursday, April 24 to explain and demonstrate two new state-of-the-art electron microscopes that local industries may use for a fee.

The two microscopes, which cost more than $1 million, will be used for nanometer-scale research – by both the university and local industry – including making images of and fabricating objects that contain fewer than 1,000 atoms, says Matt DeLong, technical facilities director for the university’s Department of Physics.

 The public and local business representatives are invited to the open house, which includes technical talks from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. by university officials and manufacturers of the microscopes and microscope attachments. They will discuss the capabilities of the electron microscopes and their uses for research and development. The seminar will be held in the auditorium of the Intermountain Network and Scientific Computation Center (INSCC), which is located immediately north of the Park Building near the top of Presidents Circle.

From 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., participants may watch demonstrations of the two microscopes – including use of the microscopes on samples provided by participants – in labs in INSCC and the Merrill Engineering Building’s nanofabrication laboratory.

Those wishing to attend or submit samples must pre-register with DeLong at or his office (801) 581-7462 or cellular (801) 580-7246.

 “One of these microscopes will have the ability to image materials being fabricated, both on-campus and commercially, which contain fewer than 1,000 atoms,” DeLong says. “These materials are being used to develop state-of-the-art nanotools for disease detection.  We have already used this microscope to measure the quality of materials used in locally manufactured dental crowns. This microscope also will be used to fabricate nanoelectronic circuits with features 20 times smaller than anything currently commercially available.”

Unlike conventional electron microscopes, which operate only in a high vacuum, “the second microscope can operate with nanoscale resolution under conditions compatible with biological materials,” says DeLong. “This will allow us to see details of nanoscale drug delivery systems. It also can be used to change the water content of oil-bearing minerals at the same time it measures their chemical composition, aiding the search for and recovery of oil.”

Businesses that wish to use the microscopes will pay fees of $75 per hour during weekdays, with lower rates for nights and weekends. Businesses without their own trained operator will pay an additional $60 per hour (weekdays) to $80 per hour (other times) for the university to provide one.

The microscopes must be kept very clean and can be damaged by any kind of magnetic particle, so samples submitted for imaging must be dry, nonvolatile, nonpowdery and nonmagnetic.