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ASU Receives Donated Scanning Electron Microscope

March 07, 2018

Angelo State University’s College of Science and Engineering has added ASU’s first scanning electron microscope (SEM), which was recently donated by the Hitachi Ltd. worldwide technology company.

ASU's Hitachi S-3000N scanning electron microscope is housed in the research wing of the Vincent Building.ASU's Hitachi S-3000N scanning electron microscope is housed in the research wing of the Vincent Building.Several members of ASU’s science and engineering faculty and staff worked to obtain the SEM, initially intending to apply for grant funding from the National Science Foundation to purchase a new one. But while gathering quotes and conducting cost analysis, Dr. Gregory Smith of the chemistry faculty learned that Hitachi had a used SEM in good condition and was willing to donate it to ASU. The generous gift saved ASU the $160,000 cost of a comparable new SEM. 

The Hitachi S-3000N donated to ASU can magnify objects up to 200,000 times the size of the object being studied. In contrast, standard optical microscopes tend to have a magnification power of only a few hundred times. SEMs also have tremendous depth of field compared to traditional microscopes, providing an almost 3-D image for researchers to analyze, as compared to the flatter image an optical microscope produces. SEMs can also look past the surface of an object, telling researchers information about its composition. 

Dr. Gregory SmithDr. Gregory Smith“I believe this is a big step forward for ASU,” Smith said. “The SEM will enable many faculty members a chance to do research they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. The greatest thing about it is we all have undergraduate students that work on our research with us. SEMs are used in both industry and academia, so experience with an SEM is a great benefit to our students as they move on into industry or graduate school.” 

Hitachi engineers have installed the SEM in the ASU Vincent Building and conducted an initial faculty training session. It is now available for use in research and teaching throughout all the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health sciences fields on campus. 

In addition to Smith, current ASU faculty and staff involved in the SEM project were: 

  • Jayna Phinney, project manager
  • Dr. Daniel Castaneda, engineering
  • Dr. Nicholas Negovetich, biology
  • Dr. Scott Williams, physics and geosciences 

Also, Dr. Paul Swets, dean of the College of Science and Engineering, provided funding for space alterations in the research wing of the Vincent Building; Jamie Akin, Alicia Ernst and Ridge Goodloe in the Office of Development managed the in-kind equipment donation and acceptance process; Katie Plum in the Office of Sponsored Projects provided resources for the installation and maintenance agreement; and several other faculty members provided research summaries detailing expected needs and uses for the SEM.