NASA donates state-of-the-art microscope to Kent

Seth Cohen

As the College of Technology gears up in the new year, new gadgets are coming in for future research.

The newest addition is a $700,000 piece of machinery donated from NASA, and it’s right here in Kent.

Called an Auger Spectrometer, this electron microscope can not only view microscopic objects, but it can also identify what type of chemical elements the object contains.

“Our purpose for this microscope is to see how we can make our materials, such as copper, nickel, gold, platinum and other materials, stronger, more durable and, of course, much cheaper,” said Darwin Boyd, assistant professor for the College of Technology.

Moreover, he said these improved materials could be beneficial for the cars we drive, for the computers we use and for the bulletproof vests police wear.

“In theory, let’s say I take a gun and shoot the wall, and the bullet goes through the wall,” Boyd said. “We want to analyze what we can do to make the materials in the wall stronger, so the next time we shoot the wall, the bullet won’t have any effect.”

Boyd, who worked at NASA for seven years, said he previously used the machine to develop better materials for high-speed aircrafts. He said even though this machine is worth a lot of money, NASA donated it to Kent for free because they had no use for it anymore.

“The only thing we paid for was shipping, and that was around $500,” Boyd said.

Though it’s a 10-year-old piece of machinery, he said this device is state-of-the-art for research, and he is proud to finally have it on campus.

When students were introduced to this new technology, they had similar responses.

“This can bring valuable potential for the scientific community,” said Israel Debro, sophomore aeronautical engineering major.

Kacie Jones, a junior health administration major, said she hopes the Auger Spectrometer will be beneficial for the researchers who can improve our technology.

The college of technology is hoping to eventually partner its research from the machine with the Rolls Royce industry in Canton, said Boyd, because the Auger Spectrometer could prove useful in developing clean fuel alternatives.

“It’s very complex, and very hard to understand at first,” said Boyd. “Not many people can really pronounce the name correctly it’s so complex, but it’s great research.”

Contact Seth Cohen at [email protected].