Campus: CSU Northridge -- January 31, 2005

Money from Parsons Foundation Supports CSUN's Research Efforts in Nanotechnology

New state-of-the-art equipment in Cal State Northridge's Advanced Materials Laboratories is providing the university's engineering students a chance to do cutting-edge research alongside NASA scientists and engineers in the burgeoning field of nanotechnology.

The purchase of the Imaging Laser Ellipsometry System was made possible in part by a $50,000 grant from The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. Additional money came from NASA and the university's own funds.

"It's the latest state-of-the-art spectroscopic imaging laser Ellipsometric system," said manufacturing systems engineering professor Behzad Bavarian, director of the laboratories in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. "There are only two of them in California now, the one here and one at Stanford University. They are providing a great opportunity for our students, both graduate and undergraduate, to do research and get hands-on experience in the cutting-edge field of nanotechnology."

Ellipsometry is an optical technique that probes a sample and that, through the analysis of polarized light, can yield information about layers that are thinner than a single atom. It is referred to as nanoscience because it deals with extremely small substances, 100 times thinner than a strand of hair. It reveals details about layer thickness, refractive indices, absorption constants, morphology and chemical composition.

The most common function of Ellipsometry is the analysis of very thin films. Thin films have acquired a new importance in modern society due to their use in semiconductors, flat panel displays, automotive plastics, eyeglass lenses and many plastic packaging applications. Thin films are also used for scratch resistance and anti-reflection coatings.

Bavarian said having an Imaging Laser Ellipsometry System at Northridge means the university's engineering students will have an opportunity to work alongside scientists and engineers from NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on developing sensors to be used in space exploration.

"NASA pioneered this technology because it is very interested in reducing weight in the equipment it uses for the space program," he said. "One of the things we agreed to when we got this equipment was that we would be working with NASA as it continues its efforts in this area."

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130, carmen.chandler@csun.edu


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