Clemson University Summer Scholars

Materials Engineering Through the Electron Microscope

This course is offered to rising 10th — 12th graders.

This program will allow students to experience the science of materials engineering through the lenses of electron microscopes at the nation’s top electron microscope facility, Clemson University’s Electron Microscopy Facility, with top of the line microscopes. We will take skills used in engineering and biology to their smallest and simplest pieces and learn how high powered microscopes help shape our lives.  Knowledgeable and experienced instructors will allow students to see how materials, such as those used on airplanes, are studied through high power electron microscopes to get their atomic level information. The hands on activities that the students will participate in are very strongly tied to STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math).

Here are some examples of projects students could participate on during this program:

  1. Metallurgy: Students will learn how to properly prepare metal samples for the scanning electron microscope (SEM).  This involves cutting and mechanically polishing samples to a mirror finish. By having several different samples available (i.e. different materials, different forgings, different head treatments), students will be able to see how the material is handled affects its structure and properties at the atomic scale, and we will thus have demonstrated (hopefully) how and why various materials go through advanced forging and heat treatments.
  2. Environmental and Life Sciences: For this project, students will have plant tissue samples that have been infused with nanoparticles intended to mimic the uptake of environmental contaminants.  By comparing control tissues to the modified specimens, students will be better able to understand how environmental contaminants (such as heavy metals) adversely affect biological growth and function. 
  3. Food Sciences: We have a special stage that allows for observation of specimens in a frozen state.  This in turn allows for examination of "moist" samples, namely foodstuffs.  Students can compare the fat content between different brands of hotdogs, ice crystal formation in ice cream, etc. 
  4. Focused Ion Beam (FIB): This project will use our Focused Ion Beam (FIB) to examine various materials and make controlled sections in them in an area less than width of the human hair. Our FIB has the capability to section and image a sample. Doing this several times, and we have a series of serial images.  Students will input these into 3D-reconstruction software to develop a three-dimensional model of the sample.  Some of the section material will be used in high powered transmission electron microscope to observe their atomic structure and other chemical properties.

This course is offered during Session 6 (July 19th, 2015 — July 25th, 2015). Click here to view the schedule.

Tuition for this course is $875 before April 1st. After April 1st, tuition increases to $975.

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