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Defense funding enables acquisition, upgrading of essential R&D tools

Titan3™ 80-300 S/TEMProbe-corrected Titan3™ 80-300 S/TEM

Materials Science and Engineering Professor David McComb and Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Paul Berger have earned federal grants for laboratory equipment useful in advancing research of importance to national defense.

The Department of Defense (DoD) recently announced awards to 175 university researchers at 91 institutions in 36 states, totaling $53 million through the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program. DURIP augments research capabilities at universities conducting cutting edge research for DoD, through the procurement of state-of-the-art equipment.

McComb is also the director The Ohio State University’s Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis (CEMAS), where his $1.425 million DURIP award will enable the upgrade of a probe-corrected Titan scanning transmission electron microscope. The Titan upgrade will have a transformative impact on strategic topics of interest to DoD, including development of lightweight alloys, structural materials for aerospace and transportation, materials for energy, advanced manufacturing, biomaterials and composites.

Dr. Robert Williams, assistant director for research development at CEMAS and a co-PI on the award explained, “Information from this instrument can, for example, directly impact the development of new disk superalloys to improve aircraft energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions and saving billions of dollars in fuel costs.” 

“This instrument will be utilized in existing and new projects with colleagues at Air Force Research Laboratory, Army Research Office, Office of Naval Research and other DoD facilities,” McComb added. “And it can be controlled remotely from hundreds of miles away to facilitate collaboration, training and education.”

CEMAS boasts one of the largest concentrations of electron and ion beam analytical microscopy instruments in any North American institution.

Berger’s DURIP $125,000 award will secure equipment, including a 110 GHz spectrum analyzer, to perform high frequency and switching measurements of gallium nitride structures. Gallium nitride is a group III–V direct bandgap semiconductor employed in a variety of optoelectronic and high-frequency devices, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Wright State University Professor Elliott Brown is co-investigator.

“This equipment will be critical as we qualify our seminal discovery of repeatable negative differential resistance from gallium nitride-based resonant tunneling diodes (RTD),” Berger said. “RTDs have been measured in excess of 1 terahertz, as they rely on fast quantum mechanical tunneling transport.”

He added that RTDs were co-invented by esteemed Ohio State electrical engineering alumnus Raphael Tsu and Nobel Prize winner Leo Esaki.

Collectively, the Army Research Office, Office of Naval Research and Air Force Office of Scientific Research received 671 proposals, requesting $254 million in funding, of which the most meritorious proposals were selected.

“DURIP instrumentation awards provide the unique means through which DoD supports universities in the acquisition of essential laboratory equipment, usually out of reach for most research grants,” said Dale Ormond, principal director for research. “DURIP is a true enabler of discovery for DoD supported science and technology research, and supports of the training of the next generation science, technology, engineering and mathematics workforce.”

College of Engineering research teams also recently received two Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) awards from DoD.

Tags: Research