Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for research and innovation and dean of the graduate school, attended an Aug. 23 celebration at the Center for Advanced Materials Characterization in Oregon (CAMCOR) inside Lokey Laboratories. The event marked the Center’s acquisition of a new FEI Helios 600i Dual Beam Focused Ion Beam (FIB) instrument. It was attended by UO President Michael Gottfredson, CAMCOR users, directors and staff, officials from FEI and representatives from across campus. CAMCOR is a shared instrumentation facility open to academic, government, and industrial users.
“The acquisition of this new tool is a testament to the CAMCOR’S tremendous success,” Espy said. “Not only will this new instrument help meet the high demand for this outstanding facility, but it will serve to attract new users, help encourage future acquisitions, and give students the opportunity to learn to use these tools through mentorship by their faculty.”
The new tool, which has been in use for a month, is designed for imaging, nanofabrication, analysis and sample preparation. It is the final piece of a suite of tools secured through UO's partnership with FEI, which began with the Titan 80-300 electron microscope in 2007.
During a short ceremony, CAMCOR director Kurt Langworthy spoke about what the acquisition means for CAMCOR. The new tool, he said, will have a major impact. He pointed to the 100 or so industry users of the lab and the high return on investment of a new device, which has already helped secure clients. . The instrument will also be used in classes, training courses, and several outreach activities.
The new instrument is housed alongside an older FIB that is in extremely high demand. In addition to meeting demand, the new machine greatly expands the capabilities of the lab. One example, cited by Langworthy, was the use of a process known as “correlated microscopy” in which researchers can load an optical microscope image of a sample and drive directly to a focal point with an electron beam instead of hunting around for hours in search of the point of interest.
Physics Professor Ben McMorran has been one of the tool’s early users. His lab uses the FIB to create optics that can be used to manipulate waves of electrons. He likened the instrument to a Swiss Army Knife acting at a nano scale. In addition to the specific capabilities of the FIB, McMorran said the new tool greatly expands the capabilities of existing instruments.
During the visit, Langworthy led Espy through a hands-on demonstration of the new tool. While President Gottfredson looked on, Espy milled a 6-micron Oregon O into a thin film of aluminum.
Professor and former CAMCOR director Dave Johnson said the shared facility with its high-tech tools served as a showcase and was the science equivalent of the UO football team locker room. Having such a facility with equipment that enables scientists to engage in cutting edge scientific discovery and provides real world application is important for a number of reasons. Johnson said acquiring new tools like the new FIB was imperative to increasing the university’s standing and attracting new talent.
“It’s incredibly important to attracting students, incredibly important to attracting faculty, it’s incredibly important to building relationships with companies and universities around the world,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the continued success of CAMCOR was changing the culture of researchers on campus. Instead of keeping instruments to themselves, he explained, faculty members are now more likely to place equipment within CAMCOR, sharing the new tools they acquire with other users.
“It’s moved everybody forward,” he said. “It’s changed the fabric of campus.”