National Science Foundation grant will help Kettering University expand materials science and engineering research

Dr. Susan Farhat, Chemical Engineering faculty member at Kettering University, and a multidisciplinary team of faculty have received a $152,550 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation (NSF-MRI) program that will allow Kettering to acquire a spectroscopic ellipsometer.

The grant is among 11 NSF-MRI awards the University has received since 2012 -- more than any university in Michigan over that stretch. National Science Foundation grant will help Kettering University expand materials science and engineering research

“We are grateful for the support from the National Science Foundation,” Farhat said. “Research and programs in materials science and engineering are expanding at Kettering, and this instrument is a perfect complement to many of the systems and infrastructure we have recently acquired through similar grants.”

Co-investigators on the grant were Dr. Salomon Turgman-Cohen (Chemical Engineering), Dr. Uma Ramabadran (Physics) and Dr. Xuan Zhou (Electrical and Computer Engineering). The acquisition will allow Kettering to grow its research profile in the area of materials science and engineering, expand undergraduate research opportunities, support integration of research and experiential learning into courses and enhance community outreach programs in science and engineering related fields.

“Kettering has several research and curriculum initiatives underway involving engineered materials and surfaces,” Farhat said. “The ellipsometer will add to Kettering’s growing laboratory capabilities, offer new opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration and offer faculty a unique resource to integrate into their classes.”

Potential projects supported by this acquisition could include development of engineered surfaces for orthopedic implants, investigation of the deposition behavior of organosilicons in plasma, creation of new materials and models for sodium-ion batteries, improved food storage materials, monitoring of surface-initiated polymerization kinetics, depositing silicon dioxide thin films with plasma, synthesizing materials for tissue engineering and wound repair, and understanding refractive index for thin ferrofluid layers.

The ellipsometer also supports Kettering’s recent efforts to develop a graduate program in Materials Science and Engineering. The courses and projects being developed for this program will be enhanced by having this equipment on campus.

This ellipsometer has many capabilities, including measuring film thickness, optical constants, refractive index and pore size distribution. Faculty from several academic disciplines have research interests that will benefit from this equipment, including in Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, Applied Biology and Electrical Engineering. It will also offer new opportunities to engage undergraduate and graduate students in research.

“At Kettering, undergraduate students get exposed to meaningful on-campus research opportunities at an earlier stage than peers at other universities,” Farhat said. “The ellipsometer will allow students to assist with research that will lead to opportunities to present at conferences, publish papers and potentially even be a part of new patents.”