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Out of 685 applications, three Carnegie Mellon University faculty members have been selected to receive funding for their projects through the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP): Marc De Graef, Anthony Rollett, and Rebecca Taylor.

This year, the DURIP awards will support equipment and instrumentation to accelerate engineering research relevant to national defense. These include development and characterization of novel materials, quantum computing and quantum networks, bioelectronics, hypersonics, autonomy, and more.

Marc De Graef

Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

De Graef received funds from AFOSR to acquire a laboratory diffraction contrast tomography instrument. It will allow multiple groups in the College of Engineering and the Mellon College of Science to use non-destructive 3D characterization techniques. Usually requiring the use of high-brilliance-focused synchrotron x-ray beams, the new instrument brings this capability to the lab by using a polychromatic x-ray beam, rather than the current monochromatic synchrotron beam.

The instrument creates the ability to follow an evolving microstructure in time with high spatial resolution. It will be used to study grain growth in ceramic materials, 3D microstructure in additively manufactured materials, and self-healing mechanisms in polymeric materials. In addition, numerical machine learning models will be developed to analyze the raw data produced by the instrument.

Anthony Rollett

Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Rollett was awarded funds by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for a robotic laser hot wire system for research on additive manufacturing (AM) via directed energy deposition. The robotic laser welding AM machine, created by Lincoln/Wolf, will be one of the first of its type to be installed at a university.

The machine will be a platform for merging research, education, and workforce training efforts within the CMU Next Manufacturing Center, the CMU Robotics Institute, and the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute.

Rollett anticipates that the proposed system will considerably expand the scope of new explorable materials, such as light alloys. It will also further the forward deployment of systems and involve recycling locally-sourced materials, simplifying the current process of wire creation.

Rebecca Taylor

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Taylor’s project in scanning ion conductance microscopy (SICM) was awarded funding by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). The research involves peptide nucleic acid-based nanostructures at biotic and abiotic interfaces. The nanopipette probes of the SICM instrument operate in liquid without making physical contact with the sample. A sensor measures the current flow, which decreases as the distance between the pipette and sample becomes smaller. Through monitoring current and directing the pipette and sample, it can measure nanometer scale topographies of soft, uncharged, and high-aspect-ratio structures.

In addition to characterizing the morphology, mechanics, and surface discharge distribution of γPNA-containing nanostructures, this tool will have many practical uses in sample observation, especially label-free time course studies of living cell membranes.