News Release

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New Microscope Developed

10/13/1997

OXFORD, Ohio -- Several years of engineering and research have

paid off with the creation of a new high-powered microscope in Miami

University's Molecular Microspectroscopy Lab (MML).

"Over the course of the project, several prototype microscopes were

designed and built," said André Sommer, assistant professor of chemistry

and director of the MML. "Four are at companies in England and the

Netherlands, and one remains here."

The scopes are called Fourier Transform Raman Microprobes. Sommer

designed and built the microscopes in collaboration with Perkin-Elmer Limited,

one of the largest suppliers of analytical instruments in the world.

Miami's instrumentation lab provided expertise in mechanical engineering

and machining, as well as facilities. "We had to make it fit outside an

existing spectrometer, make it easy to install, and enclose an invisible

laser," said Sommer.

General uses of the FT Raman Microprobe include identifying contaminants

in polymers and pharmaceuticals and performing forensic analysis.

During summer, juniors Brian Barrera and Sarah Stewart, both summer

scholars, worked on a project exploring the capabilities of the microscope for

the analysis of pharmaceuticals. They also conducted preliminary studies for

the Butler County coroner, identifying illicit drugs.

Most law enforcement agencies use infrared microscopes, which provide more

information about the material used to cut the drug than the drug itself. The

FT-Raman microscope hones in on the drug.

Several companies have sponsored research at the MML, including Eli Lilly,

Dow Chemical, Monsanto, Procter and Gamble, 3M and Kodak.

In a cross-section of Kodak film a contaminant of about five micrometers

(1/10 the width of a human hair) is magnified to nearly two inches, and is then

further studied.

Sommer and a team including undergraduates, graduate students and a post

doctoral researcher, continue to explore new applications for the use of the FT

Raman Microprobe and enhancing the abilities of current infrared

microscopes.

Miami's exprtise in molecular microscpetroscopy and industrial problem

solving attracted Perkin-Elmer and other companies to collaborate on the

project.

The agreement with Perkin-Elmer allows the university to keep equipment in

exchange for development of the microscope. Three instruments that remain in

Hughes Hall are used for collaborative research in chemistry, paper science and

the biological sciences. The donation of equipment and sponsored research over

several years has exceeded $350,000.

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