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Rep. Danice Picraux Dedicates Focused Ion Beam System

December 16, 2009

 UNM dedicated its focused ion beam system Tuesday afternoon in a ceremony keynoted by New Mexico Representative Danice Picraux. Housed in the basement of Northrop Hall in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department, the machine available for use by other departments across campus, and with collaborating institutions.

The focused ion beam system is similar to a scanning electron microscope except that a beam of ions rather than electrons helps form the image. The beam can be used to remove material by etching.

Rep. Picraux received a small-etched chip commemorating her assistance in sponsoring a special project in the New Mexico legislature for part of the money to buy the system. Earth and Planetary Sciences Professor Adrian Brearley received money from NASA, and worked with Regents’ Professor of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Abhaya Datye (photo at left) and Mechanical Engineering Professor Zayd Leseman to complete funding for the project with money from the National Science Foundation.

Brearley is already beginning to work with the machine to slice very thin slivers from meteorites. He is after tiny grains contained in the slivers. He shares those with colleagues who examine the structure and condition of the grains. They are looking at whether the grains might have been part of the stars formed at the very beginning of the known universe.

The system has a number of other uses as well. It can be used to study heterogeneous catalysts, heteroepitaxial semiconductors, quantum dots, lasers, microfluidic devices, ion channels, free-standing thin films and biosensors.