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Buckeyes earn big honors at “micro” meeting

Ortiz, Esser, and Boona(from left) Buckeye engineers Gabriel Calderon Ortiz, Bryan Esser and Isabel Boona were honored for their research prowess at the Microscopy and Microanalysis 2017 meeting.

This week at the Microscopy and Microanalysis 2017 meeting in St. Louis, three young Buckeye engineers were honored for their research prowess.

Isabel Boona received the 2017 M&M Professional Technical Staff Award, while Bryan Esser and Gabriel Calderon Ortiz earned 2017 M&M Student Scholar Awards. The awards are sponsored by the Microscopy Society of America (MSA) and the Microanalysis Society (MAS).

Boona is a staff member and PhD student in Professor David McComb’s group at the Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis (CEMAS). Esser holds two materials science and engineering degrees from Ohio State (BS ’11, MS ’16) and also is a PhD student with McComb as his advisor. Ortiz is a PhD student in materials science and engineering advised by Assistant Professor Jinwoo Hwang. All three were chosen from hundreds of applicants for each award.

In their paper, “Correlative 3-D Imaging and Characterization of Human Dentine,” Boona, McComb and collaborators outline advances they made in imaging a human tooth in 3-D across seven length scales, from centimeters to nanometers.

“3-D characterization is of particular importance in the study of mineralized tissues such as teeth and bones due to the presence of channels, pores and features that span millimeter, micrometer and nanometer length scales,” Boona explained.

The dentine in human teeth has channels called tubules that connect from the surface of the tooth all the way down to the nerve. If the gum line recedes enough that these tubules are exposed to thermal stimuli, dental hypersensitivity can occur. Armed with the power of 3-D correlative microscopy, Boona is working to understand how treatments for dental hypersensitivity act on these tubules.

Research project funding, as well as the human tooth sample, was provided by GlaxoSmithKline Oral Healthcare.

In Esser’s paper, “Structural and Magnetic Characterization of B20 Skyrmion Thin Films and Heterostructures Using Aberration-Corrected Lorentz TEM and Differential Phase Contrast STEM,” he and McComb share discoveries from imaging of magnetic materials that could fundamentally change the way data is computed and stored.

These novel materials are thin films grown on silicon that, under the right conditions, form magnetic vortices called skyrmions that can then be used to store information in electronic devices like smart phones and computers.

“One of the potentially transformative properties of skyrmions is that they require significantly less energy to manipulate than current technologies,” Esser said.

The microscopy techniques required to image such magnetic features are also quite advanced. Using state-of-the-art microscopes at CEMAS, the skyrmions were viewed at the atomic scale and at temperatures as low as -300°F to understand how structure and distribution of different elements affects magnetism.

This research was funded in part through Ohio State’s Center for Emergent Materials, an NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, and the Institute for Materials Research, in collaboration with Department of Physics Professor Roland Kawakami and post-doctoral research Adam Ahmed.

In Ortiz’s paper, “Determining Nanoscale Molecular Ordering in Semiconducting Polymers,” he and Hwang worked on a new electron microscopy technique that can determine the detailed structure of molecular ordering in organic semiconductors. Such materials have opened tremendous new opportunities in novel electronics and energy generation with their unmatched advantages including structural flexibility and inexpensive processing methods. The nanoscale molecular ordering of the organic semiconductors’ structure critically affects their electric, photovoltaic and mechanical properties, and therefore understanding the details of the molecular ordering and how it relates to the properties is critically required.

Their technique is based on electron nanodiffraction using a highly coherent electron probe that captures the diffraction signal directly from the local ordering, and determines the type, size, connection and distribution of the ordering far beyond the limits of any conventional methods. The ordering needs to be determined in a statistically robust manner, and analyze the data using fluctuation microscopy and angular correlation analyses to reveal the details of the ordering. This new approach provides a powerful new tool to establish important structure-property relationships in a broad range of functional organic materials.

Funding for the research was provided by Ohio State's Institute for Materials Research.

The M&M 2017 meeting is the largest conference dedicated to the science and application of microscopy and microanalysis. As part of these awards, Boona,  Esser and Ortiz received complimentary registration to the meeting, and up to $1,000 in support to defray expenses in attending.