Delivery of the Nanotechnology Characterization Facility to by arg46217



        Delivery of the Nanotechnology Characterization Facility to
                          Engineering Education

                      Submitted to the Engineering Excellence Fund Committee
                                 University of Colorado at Boulder

                                             March 2, 2007

                                       ______Wei Tan______
                                 Department: Mechanical Engineering
                                        Phone: 303-492-0239

       Others in the NCF supporting team at the Department of Mechanical Engineering:

                                               Prof. Yung-Cheng Lee
                                               Prof. Hang Qi
                                               Prof. Virginia Ferguson

                                              I. Abstract

Nanotechnology becomes an indispensable unit in the engineering education in the 21st century.
Nanotechnology includes nano-materials, nano-devices, nano-science, and nano-medicine. To grasp an in-
depth understanding and have hands-on experiences with nanotechnology will make our engineering students
more competitive upon graduation. Nanoscale Fabrication and Characterization Facilities (NCF), a
$3,000,000 center, is the cornerstone and “hardware” of the CU Nanoinitiative. Unfortunately, the current
training program offered by NCF is solely research-oriented. The proposed educational and training program
will achieve an efficient approach to deliver the NCF to engineering curriculum and to all the engineering
students. We propose to develop a 3-level teaching and training program including: (1) comprehensive on-
line educational material; (2) virtual microscope/teaching modules; (3) Design- or application-oriented
personal training. The goals of the proposed teaching and training program are 5-fold:
     1. To support current material-related and nanotechnology-related courses. In the classroom, our
         proposed on-line lectures, virtual microscope, and teaching modules can be directly used.
     2. To support undergraduate material- or nanotechnology-related design projects including class
         projects or senior designs.
     3. To provide basic education in nanoscience and nanotechnology to all the engineering students
     4. To enhance the efficiency and cut down the costs of current training program so it may help
         undergraduates’ involvement in nanotechnology-related research
     5. To provide opportunities for undergraduates to participate in the NCF, for example, prepare video
         clips for nano-career interviews, sample preparation, etc.

                                           II. Project Description

Needs: Nanotechnology involves understanding, controlling, and manipulating matter in the range of 1 to
100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications. As one of the most important
technologies of the 21 century, nanotechnology will impact every aspect of our lives from health care, to
consumer products, communications, electronics, and safety. "Nanotechnology will be critical to our future
economy because it enhances other technology efforts including biotechnology, electronics/information
technology, energy, defense/homeland security and aerospace… Colorado has 75 companies already
involved in nanotechnology, and that provides a significant foundation on which to build”, commented by
Prof Wobbekind, associate dean of the Leeds School and director of the Business Research Division.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance for our engineering students to keep abreast with the new engineering
technology and be trained with basic knowledge and hands-on experience with nanoscience and
nanotechnology. Education of engineering students with nanotechnology now starts to be available through
developed courses such as Material Sciences, MEMS and Nanomechanics, to just name a few, and ongoing
research on the campus. However, gaining more in-depth understanding and hand-on experience should help
our undergraduates more competitive when they graduate.
    The University of Colorado has developed a major training and research initiative in Micro/Nano
Systems for Engineering and Life Sciences. CU, through the Nanotechnology initiative, is positioned to be a
national leader in implementing nanotechnology. The cornerstone of this initiative is the NCF, a $3,000,000
facility opened in November 2006. It is the “hardware” for nanotechnology at CU. The College of
Engineering and Applied Science is using a combination of federal and university funds to establish a state-
of-the-art Nanoscale Fabrication and Characterization Facilities (NCF) to support the advancement of
nanotechnology. It is so exciting to think that the $3 million facility would potentially serve as a modern
teaching and training tool for students if an efficient training program could be developed. To make this
great facilities impact our engineering students and bring real benefits to our students particularly
undergraduates is through a well-developed training program.
The five major pieces of state-of-
art equipment (see Figure right)                       Low Vacuum SEM:                        Field Emission
                                                       e.g polymer surface
that already have been installed in                                                           SEM:
                                                                                               < 5nm resolution
the NCF are:                                                                                  e.g. nanofiber
    Low-vacuum scanning electron
    microscope (LV-SEM) – for
    compositional mapping of
    materials or devices at
    nanometer resolution
    Field-emission scanning
    electron microscope (FE-SEM)                                                                   e.g. artificial
    – for engineering of nano-scale              e.g. bone                                         tissue
    structures and particles at sub-
    nanometer resolution
    Confocal laser scanning
    microscope (CLSM) – for
    optically sectioning a 3-D
    sample with nanometer
    resolution by using a pinhole
    to reject light originating              Nano Indenter      Atomic Force Microscope Confocal Laser Microscope
    outside the chosen area.
    Atomic force microscope (AFM) – for precisely measuring surface characteristics of materials or devices
    up to atomic resolution
    Nanoindenter – for charactreizing depth-dependent nanoscale mechanical behavior (hardness, modulus,
    strength, friction, etc.) and imaging of nanoscale materials and samples

Additional equipment, including X-ray Photo Electron Spectrometer (XPS), focused ion beam (FIB) and
transmission electron microscope (TEM) are planned to be obtained in the near future. Based on these
facilities, nanoscale features, nanoscale phenomena and nanoscale material properties, nanodevices and so on
can readily be explored. Unfortunately, the current training experiences offered by NCF are solely
research-oriented and only available to roughly 30 engineering students. Most of them are graduates.
The reason is that the only available training program is based on one-to-one in-person training.

Cost-effectiveness:        The cost-effectiveness of this program can not be easily matched. The NCF is a
$3,000,000 facility that can not possibly be duplicated at many institutions. Our program takes advantage of
the tremendous resources of the NCF and delivers them to students in a very inexpensive but effective
manner. The mechanical departmental support for this program is outstanding. Four faculty members have
committed their time and teaching/research assistants will be provided in support of this program. This
program will immediately benefit engineering students throughout the school. Below is an example that
compares the costs and results from the current training program vs the proposed teaching and training
program. This example takes confocal laser microscope training for illustration. Estimated user time is the
least time for a user to spend on the process. Apparently, the proposed plan is more economic and feasible to
be delivered to education and curriculum.
             Current training program                          Proposed teaching and training program
- First-time overview training         4 hours        - online                     7 hours
- Self study (without good training materials)        - virtual microscope        6 hours
    5 hours                                           - design- or application- oriented training (only
- Second-time specific training        4 hours            required for those who desire to use the facilities)
- Certification                         1 hour                                        1 hour

                                                    To gain in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience,
Time on the instrument:     9 hours (cost: $360)    Time on the instrument:      0 hours (cost: $0)
                                                    For design- and class project-related application,
                                                    Time on the instrument:      1 hours (cost: $40)
Overall study time:          14 hours               Overall study time:          14 hours
Benefited students:          30 students            Benefited students:           All engineering students

Teaching and training program:                Our proposed plan is to make the NCF more accessible to the
engineering undergraduate and graduate students through the development of a comprehensive educational
and training program. This will involve developing online resources and then integrating the online program
with improved highly efficient hands-on training program. This online program will include lectures,
animations, video-chips, self-study quizzes and certification exam, as well as new high-technology
simulations, namely virtual instrument. For the majority of the undergraduates, the highly informative online
resources should satisfy their needs to gain in-depth understanding of nanotechnology. Also, the virtual
instrument gives them hands-on experience with all the instruments. But if an undergraduate is interested in
working on nanotechnology for his senior design, undergraduate research or class assignment, the student
can first pass the certification exam after taking on-line training. The certification exam will allow him/her
qualified for the specific application-oriented in-person training. So he or she will be able to actually go to
the NCF to perform design-related or application-related characterization for his own design. Thus, we will
develop a 3-level education and training program including: (A) comprehensive on-line training material; (B)
virtual instrument; and (C) design- or application-oriented in-person training.
(A) Comprehensive on-line educational material
We will develop and deliver instructional workshops online. The workshop contains lecture notes, reading
assignments, self-study quizzes, instructional manual, etc. All these can help students understand the
nanoscience and the theory that the instruments apply for nanocharacterization. Nanotechnology online
training series have multiple components:
  (1) On-line lectures: The instructional notes and lectures will be put together with resources from four ME
       faculty members as well as existing engineering courses. In addition to very informative instructional

       notes and lectures, a unique feature of the on-line lectures will be that the training document materials
       will integrate flash animation and video clips. To teach students the theories behind the instruments
       that produced the data, we will develop:
         Microscopy basics animated tutorials: The animated tutorials will teach the basics of electron,
         confocal, and atomic force microscopy and nanoindenter, We will produce a number of detailed
         interactive animations that illustrate the basics of imaging in all of the available instruments. These
         animations will be suitable for use in the classroom and individual study, and the content comes from
         our talented microscopy support team including faculty and graduate students. An example of
         electron microscopy basics: Do you wonder how an electron microscope can see at such a high
         magnification? How does it transcend the limitations of light microscopy? What does an SEM look
         like? What are its components? How does it help you to characterize nanomaterial or nanodevice.
         The animation will answer all of the questions about the basics of SEM microscopy, and illustrates
         how our state-of-art SEM captures the data you can see.
         Videos of interviews that talk about the nano-career: Interviews will be made with professionals
         (faculty members and industrial people) and graduate students about their career paths in the
         nanotechnology. We will establish an on-line application so that undergraduates who are interested
         in videos and nano-career can apply and have opportunities in involving interview process. Small
         amount of compensation may be provided.
         Videos detailing sample preparation for all the facilities
         Videos detailing instrument operation for all the facilities
   (2) Practice questions: contains self-assessment questions with feedback.
   (3) Certification exam: contains questions that determine whether the students can move on to the next
       stage – in-person training if they plan to do some nanotechnology or material-related design/project.
(B) Virtual microscope/Teaching modules
The virtual laboratory contains self-guided lessons to be completed before the “real” laboratory visit.
Successful virtual microscope, particularly SEM, has been developed by imaging genius at University of
Illinois (UIUC). Their virtual microscope is an open source project, which means we can download and edit
the computer source code files for our own needs. Based on this resource, we will develop our own basic
hardware/software interface for remote experimental modules. Especially, we have a different SEM model
and later on, we also need to develop interface for AFM and            SEM interface at uiuc. Image Observer (left)
confocal microscope. The developers at UIUC are highly                 and Scope Controller (right). Top: biological
collaborative on educational projects, as said on their website        sample, with specific controller; Bottom:
( and according to our previous personal              silicon chip, with common controller
interactions with them. With these interfaces, virtually any
experiment and/or demonstration can be readily put “on-line”
and made available to all engineering students. Instructional
materials will be available to describe how to operate the
Virtual Microscope on all microscopies.
    Our virtual microscope will aim to present the user with a
method for exploring these pre-captured image data as if they
were using the real instrument in real-time. To fulfill this goal,
the virtual microscope provides the ability to load/unload
specimens, to navigate to any point on that specimen, to
change magnification, to adjust image parameters, to change
focus, to analyze elemental composition, to measure features,
and to render data. Additionally, the interface allows experts
and laypeople alike to annotate specimens and/or load
previously-created annotations. As an example, Figure Right
shows the virtual SEM microscope. The interface provides a
simulation of actual microscope interface(s). Controls
common to all datasets include brightness, contrast,
magnification, navigation, measurement, and annotation.

Specific controls include achieving multiple focus levels, switching illumination, changing polarization.
Virtual Microscope Database/Teaching Modules: Image data is the core component for the Virtual
Microscope. With EFF support, we can start to build teaching modules by developing internet atlas which
contains an extensive set of specimens, featuring the excellent CU-Boulder collection of nanotechnology,
such as nanowire, nanotube, nanofiber, nanocoating, etc. We will produce one or two new samples each
month. These serving as teaching modules will be at a level where they can be readily incorporated into the
related engineering courses. They will be in the areas of mechanics, electronics, and materials sciences and
bioengineering. Later, we will have self-test exams and simulating thus provide students with hands-on
experience manipulating state-of-the-art equipment. They will generate and analyze real data in the same
way the NCF will be used to supplement existing engineering courses at CU Boulder. As a result,
undergraduates and graduates will have access to hands-on experience that will supplement their existing
courses, without the tremendous cost associated with these experiments.
(C) Design- or application-oriented personal training
To start a project, an instructor or a student team (e.g. senior design team), who has passed the certification
exam, can submit a web-based application that describes how they plan to use the microscope. If the
application is accepted, a one-hour session on the instrument (e.g. SEM) is scheduled and the student team
will give their specimen. During their one-hour access time, students will be assisted to control and acquire
images from the SEM. To achieve the goal of low cost, sustainable access to the instrument, we can train a
team of undergraduates to prepare the specimens and perform the initial microscope setup.

Impact of the proposed program on students:                       As shown in the table on Page 3, this proposed
program will have great impact on all the engineering students helping them better understand
nanotechnology and keep the pace with the current trend of technology development. The most obvious
benefit of the program is to provide students with access to scientific instrumentation and expertise that
would not otherwise be available to them. More importantly, the project engages students in the scientific
process and gives them some experience of the realities of conducting scientific research. In planning the
experiment and providing the specimens, students have a sense of ownership of the project that would be
difficult to duplicate using a simulator or a virtual machine.
     Additionally, here is the list of the courses that will benefit from this new program:
                    Courses                  Graduate or Undergrad                    Student #
              Materials Science                          U                              ~120
         Materials I & II (2 courses)                UG&G                               ~100
            Materials in Medicine                    UG&G                                 45
                Senior Design                           UG                           All students
           MEMS I &II (2 courses)                    UG&G                                 60
       MEMS & Molecular Biology                          G                                60
           Biomedical Device and                         G                                30
               Instrument I &II

Qualification of the proposal Team: Prof Wei Tan of the Department of Mechanical Engineering
department will supervise development of the proposed educational and training program based on her
extensive knowledge and experience with most of the equipment in the NCF. Profs Lee, Qi and Ferguson
will provide additional technical guidance for SEM, AFM and Nanoindentor. Krishna Madhavan, a graduate
student in Mechanical Engineering will design and setup on-line resources and teaching program with the
help of two undergraduate students.

                                             III. Other support
The project has so far received a wide support in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, see attached
letters from Profs Lee, Qi and Ferguson. In addition, Prof Tan, the principal investigator of this project, has
discussed the proposal with Prof. Dunn, Chair of Mechanical Engineering. He has also expressed strong
support for the proposal. Encouraged by these responses and recognizing the potential college-wide need for

this project, we have also requesting the NCF to partly fund this effort. NCF, the Facility Center is pledging
$7,600 in support of this proposal. This proposal is completely in alignment with the current focus of the
Center. The Center supported by the federal government and CU is at the forefront of nanotechnology now.
While the Department of Mechanical Engineering has introduced nanotechnology courses in the graduate
curriculum, nanotechnology has not well penetrated the undergraduate curriculum. NCF’s commitment of
financial support is recognition of this fact and would like to see our UG students being exposed to
nanotechnology. Also, Professor Tan will be providing at least 10% of her time in summer and the fall
semester to supervise the project. However, she is not seeking any financial support. It represents
approximately $8,000 in savings. Also, she is happy to offer $1000 for the students to access the
nanotechnology facilities.

                                             IV. Project Budget


  Total Project Budget $   37,560
    EEF Request          $ 28,960

Outside funding:
 Source                                                              Total Amount
                                        Confirmed? [Y/N]
  Department Contribution                                               $
  College Contribution                                                  $
  NCF                                              Y                    $ 7,600
  Tan                                              Y                    $ 1,000


Salaries (benefits should be included in total salary):
  Faculty Name                                % Time          Length Of Time              Total Amount
  W. Tan                                      10%                                         0

                                                              Total $                     0

  Student Name                 Grad or          Hourly         %            Length Of         Total
                               Undergrad        Rate           Time         Time              Amount
  TBD                          2U               $9             40hrs/wk     Smr: 13 Weeks     9360
  Krishna Madhavan             G                $14            20hrs/wk     Fall & Spg:       10920
  Krishna Madhavan             G                $14            40hrs/wk     Smr: 13wks        7280
                                                                            Total $           27,560

Equipment and Materials:
                                                  Unit Price            Quantity          Total Amount
  Item Name / Description
  NCF equipment access                            $40/hour                150 hours       6000
  Video camera and accessories                                                            1500
  Workstation and computers                                                               2500

                                                                        Total $           10,000

University of Colorado at Boulder

Nanomaterials Characterization Facility
Engineering Center
Campus Box 427
Boulder, Colorado 80309-0427
(303) 492-7151
FAX: (303) 492-349

                                                                                                    March 1, 2007
Professor Wei Tan
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Colorado - Boulder
Dear Professor Tan:
It is my great pleasure to support your proposal on “Delivery of the Nanotechnology
Characterization Facility to Engineering Education.” The Nanomaterials Characterization
Facility (NCF) has advanced instruments for CU faculty, staff and students to characterize
nano-scale devices or materials. The facility is very important to enhance CU outstanding
research activities in nanotechnology and biotechnology. NCF’s grand opening was held
on November 16, 2006; it attracted more than 240 participants with about 100 from local
industry. NCF is going to fulfill its mission to support CU research activities
However, we are facing a tremendous challenge for NCF to fulfill its second mission,
which is to enhance CU curriculum. Typically, NCF charges $40/hour or more for a single
CU user to use one of its instruments. It is impossible to open these single-user,
expensive instruments to a class of 50 or 100 students. Your proposal presents an
excellent solution for NCF to serve a large number of students. They will spend most of
their learning hours through the virtual laboratories, followed by using the real instruments
for only a couple of hours.
For this curriculum development, we will be happy to provide any support needed for a
successful implementation. Specifically, I would like to get the activities started with the
following as the minimum support:
     1. NCF will hire an undergraduate student to develop the Web site for the proposed
        virtual laboratories. The budget is $3,600 for 300 hours.
     2. NCF will provide 100 free hours to use its instruments by the students.
We can discuss more details when the project is funded. It is an outstanding proposal and
we look forward to working with you in the near future.

Y. C. Lee, Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Director of DARPA Center for Integrated Micro/Nano-Electromechanical Transducers
(iMINT) Administrative Director of Nanomaterials Characterization Facility (NCF)
University of Colorado at Boulder

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Campus Box 427
Boulder, Colorado 80309-0427
Fax: (303)-492-3498

Wei Tan
Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309


I am delighted to write this letter in support of your EEF proposal on "Delivery of the
Nanotechnology Characterization Facility to Engineering Education". Currently, my
group is in charge of administration, training, and maintaining the Atomic Force
Microscope in NCF. My group will be willing to provide help to your efforts described in
your EEF about using AFM.

In addition, I am planning offering a graduate level course about nanoscale mechanics of
materials. AFM will be an important experimental component in this course. It will be
great help to this class by using the online resources outlined in your proposal.

Overall, I strongly support your efforts and will be very happy to see it succeed.


H. Jerry Qi
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
University of Colorado at Boulder

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Engineering Center
427 UCB
Boulder, Colorado 80309-0427
(303) 492-7151
Fax: (303) 492-3498

March 2, 2007

Engineering Excellence Fund
College of Engineering
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Dear EEF Committee:

I am writing this letter in support of the major proposal, "Delivery of the Nanotechnology Characterization Facility
to Engineering Education", by Professors Wei Tan and Y.C. Lee. I am the faculty member who operates, provides
training, and uses the two MTS nanoindentation systems (MTS, Oakridge, TN) that are currently part of the
Nanotechnology Characterization Facility (NCF).

The two nanoindentation systems that we have consist of 1. a conventional MTS Nanoindenter XP with a Dynamic
Contact Module (DCM) attachment and 2. a specialized Nanoindenter XP that resides in a thermal chamber that
operates from 0 to 100°C. Use of these machines requires training that is best conducted in two parts. The first
consists of learning about the machines and techniques for data analysis through extensive reading and research. The
second is through a series of interactive, supervised sessions with a trained user of the equipment. Training on these
two instruments are similar. However, the training process is currently more time consuming and time prohibitive
than it should be. This presents a barrier to train undergraduate students. In the 3 year history of these machines
operating at CU, less than 5 undergraduate students have used them. The accessibility to students of these fantastic
materials characterization systems are thus impacted by the time consuming training that we require.

The proposal by Professors Tan and Lee will make a large impact on the accessibility of these instruments to both
undergraduate and graduate students through courses, independent research, and design courses. The reasoning is
clear that with a large on-line training and testing component, prior to the hands-on training, will significantly
reduce the amount of effort that we have to put into training individuals. With on-line training, we would then be
able to train people in a consistent and time effective manner. We are highly enthusiastic about this proposal and
hope that you fund it. We will also help Professors Tan and Lee to develop the necessary on-line modules for this

Please feel free to contact me should you require further information about nanoindentation or about my
involvement and support for this proposed work at You can also look at the
description of these instruments on-line at (although the thermal chamber is unique and
will not be mentioned there).


                                                      Virginia Ferguson, Ph.D.
                                                      Assistant Professor

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