New scientific instrumentation will increase capacity, collaboration for Iowa State researchers

The Office of Vice President for Research

Having the right research instruments makes groundbreaking discoveries possible.

In an effort to help build Iowa State’s research infrastructure, the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) launched a new internal funding program, Presidential Cost-Sharing Research Instrumentation Funding (COSRIF). Funding goes toward purchasing new equipment, replacing or adding onto existing instruments, or developing new instrumentation from scratch – all of which add capacity to Iowa State’s world-class instrumentation and facilities.

Eligible proposals include those whose costs fall outside the range of federal major instrumentation grants or are not permitted in typical individual federal research proposals.

The OVPR awarded three projects in the first round of funding this spring. In all three, new equipment will help researchers scale their work to the nano level.

“All three of these instruments give Iowa State researchers in multiple disciplines new capabilities.  They represent a great start to the COSRIF program, which is part of Iowa State’s commitment to building the research infrastructure that enables our researchers to do cutting-edge work,” said vice president for research Sarah Nusser.

Instruments allow researchers to break new ground

Multiple disciplines eye nanotechnology instrument to improve accuracy in research

Scientists at Iowa State will be able to work with electronic materials and devices at a more accurate level than ever before with the Plasma Enhanced Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) System. The state-of-the-art nanotechnology instrument allows researchers to deposit precise layers of semiconductor, metals and oxide materials on an atomic-layer thickness scale. It can be used in a wide range of areas, including research in solar energy conversion, catalysis, drug delivery, 3-D electronic devices, sensors, surface chemistry and more. Six disciplines across campus are already eager to use the ALD system, foreshadowing the collaboration it will foster.

A level of detail in icing research never seen before

Thanks to a multifunctional, high-speed flow diagnostic system, researchers will now be able to go into further detail studying icing phenomena using Iowa State’s Icing Research Tunnel – the only university-based icing research tunnel in the nation. Until now, the ISU-IRT has been bottlenecked in its ability to conduct icing physics research because it lacks a system that provides time-resolved quantitative measurements. Researchers from six different departments comprise the icing research team, making the new flow diagnostic system an invaluable tool for interdisciplinary research.

Instrument will expand metals analysis capabilities

The addition of an Inductively Coupled Plasma – Mass Spectrometer gives researchers the capability to measure trace levels of metal and semi-metal elements in biological and environmental matrices. This capability is a must for researchers today, as the presence of these elements outside normal levels can represent toxicological and ecological threats. While current ICP-MS instrumentation is used for diagnostic services, the new ICP-MS system will be used to build research capacity in inorganic analysis.

The OVPR invites research teams to begin thinking about proposals for research infrastructure under this program.

Proposals for the next round of funding are due to the OVPR by Oct. 31, 2017. More information on the program and applications are available online.