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Raman Microscope for Rapid and Facile Characterization of Air-Sensitive Molecules and Nanomaterials
Department of Chemistry
We request funds to fill a major gap in the current educational and research opportunities available to our undergraduate and graduate student body in the Chemistry and Materials Science & Engineering (MSE) departments through the purchase of a Raman microscope.
Raman Spectroscopy is one of the most powerful and commonly-used “fingerprint scanners” in materials characterization due to its extremely high sensitivity, ability to measure samples non-destructively, and unique capability to complement the observable vibrational modes visible with infrared spectroscopy. Today more than ever, Raman microscopy is relevant and important due to its application in the characterization of nanomaterials – the most promising candidates for new generations of electronic, solar conversion, and catalytic materials – studied in academic labs and industry alike.
The principles behind Raman spectroscopy – a fundamental and essential characterization method of molecules and materials - are taught at the University of Washington every quarter as part of a multitude of introductory and advanced courses on campus in the Chemistry, Materials Science, Physics and Engineering departments. Access to the instrument, and hands-on exposure would greatly facilitate understanding of the abstract, and hard-to-grasp, theoretical basis behind it. However, a Raman instrument is effectively unavailable to the majority of UW undergraduate students, who are currently unable to translate their knowledge of Raman spectroscopy from theory to real-life experimentation and data interpretation.
This Raman microscope will become the most modern, easy-to-use, and versatile instrument in a shared facility on campus, and the only instrument with a suitable configuration for measuring air-sensitive solid and liquid samples. The instrument is automated, meaning no manual aligning of the optics is necessary. This is a key feature for any routine analysis tool serving non-expert spectroscopists, such as student researchers. This Raman instrument will be highly accessible to undergraduate and graduate students, allowing for its inclusion as part of chemistry, chemical engineering, and materials science laboratory courses on campus. Its robust and automated nature, central location on campus (Bagley Hall), and high degree of accessibility will enhance the educational and research acumen of our students.
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