RPI has a new state-of-the-art X-ray diffractometer – troyrecord


TROY, NY — Thanks to a $304,084 Major Research Instrumentation Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is now home to a state-of-the-art single crystal X-ray diffractometer. The grant was awarded to a team of faculty led by Edwin Fohtung, associate professor of materials science and engineering.

“This instrument is capable of determining atomic and molecular structure in a broad class of materials,” Fohtung said in a press release. “They include hard condensed matter systems such as crystalline solids, metals, insulators and semiconductors and soft matter systems such as biological materials, proteins, organometallic complexes and inorganic compounds.”

Hard and soft condensed matter systems consist of regular, repeating arrangements of atoms that determine their properties. This instrument can accurately measure distances between atoms, as well as bond angles and bond lengths for atoms bonded to each other.

With this modern X-ray diffractometer, new and improved courses can be offered at Rensselaer on nanoscale X-ray scattering and imaging, protein structure determination, and experimental organic and inorganic chemistry that involve hands-on training in single crystal characterization methods. Approximately 10-15 post-docs, 80 graduate students and 65 undergraduate students at Rensselaer will use the lab over the next two years, many of whom are underrepresented minorities in STEM.

“It has taken several months to get this lab together, and I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities it presents,” said Peter Bonitatibus, professor of practical chemistry and director of the lab. “We will be able to analyze molecules that have far-reaching applications.”

Research and undergraduate programs at Union College, Skidmore College, Fairfield University and other smaller colleges and universities will also have access to this revolutionary tool.

“At Rensselaer, we are delighted to acquire this powerful X-ray diffractometer which will facilitate the characterization of new molecules and new materials, and will stimulate the development of solutions spanning healthcare, energy, next-generation computing “beyond silicon,” and more,” said Curt M. Breneman, dean of the School of Science. “Students, scientists and engineers across the region will benefit from this new research and teaching resource.”

Along with Bonitatibus, KV Lakshmi, professor of chemistry and chemical biology and director of the Baruch ’60 Center for Biochemical Solar Energy Research, and Jian Shi, associate professor of materials science and engineering, are co-principal investigators for the NSF award.

Laboratory Director Peter Bonitatibus with the X-ray diffractometer. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

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