By Josh McCartney
After the long hours and hard work of four members of the Chemistry faculty, Denison has received a generous grant from the National Science Foundation in the amount of $105,300 for the purchase of a powder X-Ray diffractometer.
The diffractometer, also known by the abbreviation “XRD,” will enhance science research at the school by orders of magnitude. Dr. Joseph Reczek, Dr. Jordan Katz, Dr. Annabel Edwards and Dr. Kimberly Specht combined to construct the grant from the NSF.
Reczek, the principle investigator for the grant, related his excitement for the new addition to Ebaugh Laboratories.“In the past, we would have to pay for instrument time at Ohio State, but this time is expensive and sought after,” he said. Dr. Reczek, amicably referred to as just “Dr. Joe” at his request, broke into a complex and rapid explanation of just how major an acquisition the new diffractometer was. “It allows for the investigation of how the structure of different materials, be they liquid crystals, thin films or inorganic matrices change as a function of temperature and energy,” he said.
The previous instrumentation was not able to conduct the same tests at varying temperatures; it only allowed for data collection at room temperature. “We can measure the properties of our materials, but without this technique, we don’t know the actual structure that’s leading to this phenomena,” Reczek said.
At the moment, this is the only instrument of its kind; it is the only machine that can investigate the structure of materials at different temperatures. Reczek says that prior to the acquisition of Denison’s own XRD, he was able to do about one fiftieth of what he wanted to do in the way of his research. As for his individual work, Reczek said, “I do research on new types of organic liquid materials and it is important to understand how they are going to behave over a range of temperatures.”
The investigative team, headed by Reczek, worked tirelessly to construct the nearly eighty-page grant for the new major research instrumentation for the college. This instrument is not often found in the laboratories at small liberal arts colleges; it is a mainstay in the gargantuan labs of major research institutions.
With their dedicated efforts, Denison’s faculty continue to display their zeal for teaching and the lengths to which they will go to better the research and exploration efforts occurring weekly on the Hill.
Reczek walked into a Chemistry 131 class one morning with immense pride tacked on to his usual enthusiasm and passed around a copy of a letter that he had received from the governor’s office congratulating the University on its major win with the grant for the new instrument.
He declared, in his ever ebullient manner, how he was most excited about “having the gold standard of materials chemical characterization here at Denison.”
The powder X-Ray diffractometer will be housed in the central laboratory on the first floor of Ebaugh Laboratories ready and waiting for students to be trained to use it to delve into the depths of the structures and behaviors of various complex materials.