Acquisition of Instrumentation for Development of Reliable Technologies for Harsh Environments
Competitively awarded support for University of Idaho (UI) research has steadily grown from $35 million in FY'96 to $63 million in FY'01. This increase is due, in part, to the research activities of several multidisciplinary research institutes and groups. For example, UI's NASA Grand Challenge team provided the top-ranking concept for detecting extraterrestrial life. This concept would be accomplished in space using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. At present, UI simply does not have the capabilities needed to implement and test MEMS designs in their own laboratories for reliability in harsh environments. In addition, UI researchers are conducting other projects expected to result in a miniaturized tandem mass spectrometer system, miniature resonators, micro pumps, autonomous vehicle guidance systems, magnetic random access memories, and magnetic films for small monolithic microwave integrated circuits. All of these research activities will benefit from the added capabilities requested through the Major Research Instrumentation Program.
As a result of current progress in funded research projects, and with the support of the university's administration, the PIs seek to acquire instruments to fabricate, test, and evaluate the robustness of new technologies. This request includes a plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition system, an e-beam evaporator, a vibration / shock table, a thermal vacuum chamber, and a laser vibrometer. Acquisition of these instruments will also provide more opportunities to integrate research training with graduate and undergraduate education. The University of Idaho is requesting approximately $290,000 from the National Science Foundation from a total project cost of over $611,000. This equipment will add significant capabilities to their region by complementing existing equipment at neighboring Washington State University and by providing research equipment that is currently unavailable in the inland Northwest. It will also provide additional opportunities for participants in Idaho's HOIST program (Helping Orient Indian Students and Teachers to Science and Technology) to get hands-on experience in engineering research.
The project will be managed by experienced PIs who will use proven instrument management approach to ensure efficient operation and maintenance of the equipment. A qualified engineering technician will assist them. The equipment will be housed within a single building on the main UI campus, and this MRI award will receive full administrative support from the Director and staff of the UI Microelectronics Research and Communications Institute.