Obama Administration Praises Rutgers Electron Microscope as Project 'Changing America'

A project at Rutgers to build one of the most advanced electron microscopes in the world was praised by the White House Friday as an example of a federal stimulus project that is helping to transform the nation.

The microscope, a collaboration between scientists at Rutgers and a Seattle-area firm, Nion Co., was included in a report that listed 100 projects the Obama administration says exemplify the innovative and effective work funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“With Recovery Act projects like these, we’re starting to . . . rebuild our economy on a new foundation,” Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement accompanying the report.

The Rutgers project was funded through a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation with additional funding through the university. Serving as principal investigator is Research Professor Philip E. Batson, who is affiliated with the university’s Institute for Advanced Materials, Devices and Nanotechnology (IAMDN). A world-leading scientist in the area of microscopy, Batson is also a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering Department.

Batson said the microscope will have many different applications – more efficient batteries, conversion of light to electricity, and chemical reactions that produce hydrogen.

“This instrument will let us look at how the atoms affect the operation of the things we make at the nanoscale,” Batson said.

The microscope, which is expected to be finished by the end of 2012, will have the capability to view not only individual atoms but also the vibrations of atoms. Commercialization of this technology will lead to many new research applications and produce valuable high-technology jobs, according to the White House report.

The project will also serve as a science education tool and help prepare the next generation of advanced materials scientists and engineers.

Leonard C. Feldman, director of IAMDN, and vice president, Physical Science and Engineering Partnerships, said the project will make Rutgers a leading university for electron microscopy – the critical tool for advanced materials technology. 

He also noted that the project helps U.S. companies like Nion compete in a field that has recently been dominated by foreign firms. 

“As this succeeds, it will make this company stand out as world leader,” Feldman said.

Batson is joined in the project by co-principal investigators Fred Cosandey, Materials Science and Engineering; Jing Li, Chemistry and Chemical Biology; Sang Cheong, Physics; and Ondrei Krivanek of Nion. 

September 17, 2010


In fiscal year 2010, more than $433.9 million of research at Rutgers was sponsored by the federal government, state government, corporations, and foundations, providing research experiences for undergraduates, support for graduate assistants and postdoctoral researchers, and bringing state–of–the–art equipment and facilities to our campuses.