National Science Foundation grant funds new equipment

Friday, Dec. 16, 2011 12:00 am

Grinnell, IA -  

Grinnell College has been awarded a $220,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to purchase equipment used to determine the structure of chemical compounds. The Major Research Instrumentation grant, submitted by Grinnell chemistry and physics faculty members, purchased an X-ray diffractometer, an instrument usually found at major research universities.

Professor of Chemistry Martin Minelli, who is principal investigator for the grant, said that the instrument will be used by Grinnell undergraduates for research projects in several areas of chemistry and solid state physics.

“The diffractometer allows us to use X-rays to determine the structure of new compounds, once we have grown crystals. We cannot do this structure determination with our current equipment and must send the crystals to another facility, which is inefficient and time-consuming,” Minelli said. “Having the analysis capability on-site offers Grinnell students a hands-on opportunity that is rarely available at small liberal-arts colleges.”

Grinnell faculty and students will use the new equipment during summer research and in classes and Mentored Advanced Projects during the academic year in the college’s Robert N. Noyce ’49 Science Center, named for the Intel founder and co-inventor of the microchip. “The new equipment is portable so it can be used in a variety of labs and departments,” Minelli said.

Approximately one-third of Grinnell students graduate with a major in science. Many continue into some of the top graduate programs in the country; in fact, Grinnell ranks 8th per capita among U.S. colleges and universities in producing graduates who later complete Ph.D.s in the sciences.

NSF funds research and equipment that supports the advancement of science. The project described was supported by Award No. CHE-1126521. Grinnell College is a nationally recognized, private, four-year, liberal arts college located in Grinnell, Iowa. Founded in 1846, Grinnell enrolls 1,600 students from all 50 states and from as many international countries in more than 26 major fields, interdisciplinary concentrations, and pre-professional programs.

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