Materials MicroCharacterization Collaboratory


Technologically advanced materials exhibit unique properties because their microstructure and microchemistry are carefully tailored during the manufacturing process. The essential details of the microstructure of a solid determine its properties and can range from a tenth of a millimeter to a tenth of a nanometer, depending on the material. In order to improve the properties of advanced materials (e.g., fracture toughness, corrosion and wear resistance, critical fields and transport current , electronic and magnetic properties, ...), it is necessary to develop a deeper understanding of why these materials behave the way they do. Therefore, the morphology, crystallography, elemental composition, electronic and chemical structure of these materials, among many other properties, have to be determined to the limit of the capabilities of today's best instrumentation.

A wide variety of leading-edge analytical metrologies is present in the multiple microcharacterization centers sponsored by the BES and EE programs of DOE. Five of these Centers, located at ANL, LBNL, ORNL (2) and the University of Illinois are organized around internationally recognized scientific experts and unique core instrumentation routinely employed in a wide range of materials science research. These five DOE Electron Beam MicroCharacterization Centers are also joined in this proposal by the National Advanced Manufacturing Test Bed (NAMT) program of the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST). NAMT is specifically dedicated to the development of interfaces and standards for information-based-manufacturing and long-distance collaborations using distributed computing and communications protocols. Furthermore, part of the NIST team is internationally recognized for their abilities in microanalytical characterization and metrology, this component will significantly augment the personnel at the DOE centers in areas where there are gaps in our expertise. Also included in this collaboratory are a neutron beam line at ORNL (HFIR) and x-ray beamlines at BNLís National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) and ANLís Advanced Photon Source (APS). These beamlines were developed for and are used by materials scientists who are well integrated in the microcharacterization efforts of the electron beam centers. Together, the participating Centers represent virtually every technique which employs electrons, ions, photons (including x-rays), neutrons, mechanical and/or electromagnetic radiation to elucidate the microstructure (internal or external) of any material in the physical sciences. It is the intent of this proposal to join these centers of excellence into a single on-line interactive Materials MicroCharacterization Collaboratory and thus increase the utilization of these capabilities while greatly decreasing the time constant associated with multidisciplinary materials research.

Collectively the instrumentation in these centers represents an investment in state-of-the-art technology of over $50M, a research staff having more than 1000 man-years of expertise in materials research and characterization, and an annual total user base of well over 500 scientists, students and industrial researchers. The electronic virtual environment and the interactive tools needed for telepresence microscopy and microanalysis span the breadth of applications and problems which would be encountered by typical materials scientists today. MMC, therefore, represents a focused implementation of a telepresence mode to scientific instrumentation and research. The expansion of MMC to include a wide array of materials science facilities will be a natural and anticipated extension.

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