CAS Research Instrumentation Program

The College of Arts & Sciences launched a new Research Instrumentation program in 2016.  The program required combined CAS department contributions to purchase the following research instrumentation:

2021 Purchases

This past year, despite the many challenges we faced, CAS Dean, Dr. Abby Parrill was pleased to continue the CAS Research Instrumentation Initiative grant opportunity. This was done to stress the CAS’s dedication to research. Even in difficult and challenging times, the focus on research is imperative to achieving and maintaining our share goals. Almost $236K in Department, CAS and Division of Research and Innovation funds were leveraged to improve research instrumentation in the Natural Sciences. Dean Parrill extends her gratitude for our partners in the Departments and Dr. Jasbir Dhaliwal and the Division of Research and Innovation for helping to make this year’s CAS-RII a success.

Six awards were made this past year. Typically, the Department Chair serves as PI of the proposal and is charge of collating Department needs to CAS. Each Department is required to show significant support for the purchase in terms of matching funds. This year the recipients of the CAS-RII were:

  • Department of Biological Sciences, Dr. David Freeman, PI (Department: $11,915; CAS: $11,915; Total $23,829)
  • Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI), Dr. Charles Langston, PI (CERI/Earth Sciences $15,100; CAS $22,650; Total $37,750).
  • Department of Chemistry, Dr. Paul Simone, PI (Department: $51,452; CAS $51,452; Total $102,903).
  • Department of Earth Sciences, Dr. Arleen Hill, PI (Department: $13,000; CAS $23,417; Total $36,417).
  • Department of Psychology, Dr. Randy Floyd and Dr. Melloni Cook, PIs (Department: $6,000; CAS $13,340; Total $19,340).
  • Physics & Materials Science, Dr. Firouzeh Sabri, PI (Department: $8,273; CAS $7,127; Total $15,400).

The Department of Biological Sciences requested funding for a ultra-low temperature freezer for sample preservation and a Utility Terrain Vehicle for field use. These requests are in support of the Edward J. Meeman Biological Station, a venue devoted to research and education in ecology, environmental biology, and natural history. As Dr. David Freeman indicates in his proposal, the area and habitat diversity of this site, in addition to its proximity to the main campus, make Meeman an ideal location for field research. However, the station’s complexity and size also introduce logistical challenges, including (i) the preservation of samples at ultra-low temperatures and (ii) the ability to traverse the station efficiently. Enhancing these would greatly benefit research at the station. The CAS-RII partnership will greatly benefit the ongoing research at the station and minimally will impact at least six current research projects and more faculty members.

The Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI) was awarded matching funds to purchase a Ground Penetration Radar System for Field Deployment. Their proposal was a joint venture between Earth Sciences and Civil and Environmental Engineering. According to Dr. Langston, the new system will complement and enhance current Ground Penetrating Radar systems already present in Engineering, adding significant detail and much improved resolution to their current abilities. The system is ideal for mapping bedrock, fault identification, aquifer depth, geotechnical characterization and buried archaeological feature identification.

Dr. Paul Simone notes that the Department of Chemistry was able to purchase two instruments aimed at increasing research capabilities. The first was an Elemental Analyzer enable provide our department with the capability to undertake combustion analysis of research samples.  This method of characterization is often required for publication of new synthetic materials. Prior to this award, U of M researchers outsource this work and this was costly. The second instrument purchased was stereomicroscope to support new departmental initiatives in forensic chemistry led by new faculty member, Dr. Michael Brown. This device can be used to determine the average thickness and morphology of the cortical bone samples which can then in turn be related to postmortem interval. It can also be used in the analysis of latent fingerprints using visible and fluorescence microscopy. This microscope will allow for detailed images and basic chemical data prior to more extensive chemical analysis using chromatographic and mass spectrometric methods.

The Department of Earth Sciences requested funds to purchase a stereomicroscope geared toward depth imaging and 3-D spatial evaluations of geological samples. This instrument is ideal for determining the size and shape of individual mineral grains down to the micron scale. According to Dr. Arleen Hill, quantifying such parameters is essential for geochronology and thermochronology studies focused on determining rock and mineral ages used for tectonic determinations. In addition, funds were requested to enhance the department’s capabilities in using Drones to accomplish 2D and 3D imaging applied to mapping/surveying and multispectral imaging for identification of archaeological features and biogeographical applications such as agricultural inspections/plant health analysis.

The Department of Psychology was awarded matching funds to support the purchase of a SomniSuite Anesthesia Module and Fear Conditioning Modules with Fusion Node and software. According to Dr. Melloni Cook and Dr. Randy Floyd, the SomniSuite Anesthesia Module is used for gas anesthesia which is required for a variety of techniques employed in the Behavioral Neuroscience research labs, including electrode and cannula implantation, optogenetics, and self-administration. Their existing unit was a decade-old and a new modern was needed which includes several advances over their old unit. The Fusion Node system is an intermediary between sensors and the Fusion software system. Each fusion node can connect a single device (such as the fusion fear conditioning module) to a stimulus hub. This device is essential to experiments focused on learning and development.

Dr. Firouzeh Sabri and the Department of Physics & Materials Science needed assistance with supporting the repair of their Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). The SEM is an essential piece of equipment used for micron scale materials sciences studies and surface characterization. It images a surface by focusing a bean of electrons on the surface. SEMs have been used for many years to image physical and biological samples. The Department instrument is being repaired to serve on-going projects while members of the Department and CAS prepare to replace the aging instrument.

Congratulations to all our CAS-RII recipients this year!

2020 Purchases

Three awards were made this past year. The Department Chair serves as PI of the proposal and is in charge of collating Department needs to CAS. Each Department is required to show significant support for the purchase in terms of matching funds.

2020 recipients of the CAS-RII were:

  1. Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI) ($125,900).
  2. Department of Chemistry ($141,082).
  3. Department of Physics & Materials Science ($191,802)

According to Dr. Charles Langston, Director for CERI was able to purchase a field deployable Electrical Resistivity System, upgrade the large format plotter and scanner and purchase a field deployable Lacoste-Romberg Gravimeter. The electrical resistivity system is a joint venture between CERI and CAESER and the Department of Earth Sciences and will be a valuable addition to field research efforts of the faculty in those units. The plotter/scanner is used by all faculty, students, and staff at CERI. The gravity meter is a welcome addition to the CERI field laboratory and is to be used primarily in research with additional educational impact.

Dr. Henry Kurtz, Chair notes that the Department of Chemistry was able to purchase three instruments aimed at increasing research capabilities. The first was Flash Chromatograph system which automatically performs chromatographic separation of complex mixtures of organic and inorganic compounds. It is of particular use in Dr. Tim Brewster’s research laboratory but also impacts the work of faculty and graduate students working in synthetic organic chemistry. The second instrument purchased was a Near Infrared Spectrometer It measures the absorptions at wavelengths in the range of 900 nm-2500 nm, which allow for the observation of intervalence charge transfer processes a variety of organic and organic molecules, and can be used for spectroelectrochemistry. This instrument is particularly useful to the research efforts of Dr. Kensha Clark and Dr. Xuan Zhao. The third instrument funded was a Isothermal Titration Calorimeter that measures thermodynamic parameters of molecular recognition events in aqueous buffers (protein-ligand binding, protein-protein interactions, etc). The instrument is useful to several members of the Department of Chemistry and also the Department of Biological Sciences. Dr. Dan Baker is the point person for this request. Finally, Chemistry requested support for the purchase of an auto-tuner for the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer which impact multiple groups in the Department and across campus. Dr. Ted Burkey, Dr. Charles Garner, Dr. Dan Baker and Dr. Truc Chi Pham brought together the request.

According to Dr. M. Shah Jahan, Interim Chair, the Department of Physics & Materials Science was able to upgrade their existing Electron Paramagnetic Resonance spectrometer and maintain their nationally recognized contributions in multiple areas including food science, biomaterials, free radicals, defects in solids, radiation effects in solids, reactive oxygen species (ROS), nano-materials, to mention a few. In addition to impacting the work of members of their own Department, researchers in Chemistry and Environmental Engineering will also find important uses as well for the refurbished EPR facility. In addition, Dr. Firouzeh Sabri (new Department Chair) and Dr. Jahan also requested funds to complete a digital upgrade for the EPR system. Additional funds requested and matched by Dr. Sanjay Mishra were used to purchase a new X-ray tube for the X-ray diffractometer and for purchase of a new Raman Spectrometer. Both of these instruments are used by Dr. Mishra as well as other researchers in Physics, Earth Sciences, Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering with potential uses in Chemistry.

Congratulations to all our CAS-RII recipients this year!


CERI: 60-node Zland Gen2 Seismic Data Acquisition System

More details soon

Chemistry: FlexStation 3 Multi-Mode Microplate Reader

The FlexStation is an 8-channel automated pipettor that can read mutiwell plates in absorbance, luminescence, fluorescence and fluorescence polarization modes. Details on the FlexStation

Chemistry: Tycho NT.6 Nanotemper Differential Scanning Fluorimeter

The Tycho NT.6 measures the change in intrinsic fluorescence of tyrosine and tryptophan residues in protein samples. Details on the Tycho NT.6 Nanotemper Differential Scanning Fluorimeter

Earth Sciences: Global Positioning System )One Trimble Geo7 unit and 15 Trimble TDS 100 units)

These GPS units allow for rapid mapping and spatial data collection for a wide range of field applications. Read the Usage Policy

Physics: High energy kHz laser system for optical spectroscopy

The laser system allows for the measurements of physical and chemical processes that occur at nanosecond to microsecond time scales. Additional details for the laser system.

Physics: Seebeck Unit-Thermoelectric power Measurement

 The system can provide information about the sign of the majority carrier, the mechanism of charge conduction, and in conjunction with appropriate theoretical models, information on the band structure of the material under investigation. Details on the Seebeck Unit


Chemistry: The Lab Strong FI-STREEM System:

Instrumentation for Preparation of Ultra-High Purity Reagent Water for Analytical, Biochemical, Environmental and Materials Chemistry Research (Full documentation on the Lab Strong FI-STREEM System) -View Details of the FI-STREEM System

Physics: Bright/Dark field Nikon microscope system for optical measurements of single nanostructures

Instrument Capabilities and Usage Policy
Location: Room MN 107, Department of Physics and Materials Science - View details of the Nikon Microscope System

Physics: Surface Area Analyzer

Instrument Capabilities and Usage Policy
Person-in-charge: Prof. Sanjay Mishra, srmishra@memphis.edu
Location: Room MN 117B, Department of Physics and Materials Science  - View details of the Surface Area Analyzer


CERI:  14TB ZFS supermicro file server

This file server is used as a common resource for CERI Mac, Linux, and SunOS computers for data storage. An extensive amount of research performed by students in the Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI), the department where the equipment is housed, is data intensive and the department was at 75% of storage capacity. The server is supplying additional data needs for graduate students and faculty on CERI IT systems. Read additional Information on the File Server and CERI's Computing Policy

Chemistry:  NanoSight LM10 Nanoparticle Analysis System and gold target to be used with AJA Orion 5 Sputter System (AJA Au Target)

Major features and specifications
The Au target was purchased from AJA International in March 2017. It is 2" dia x 0.25'' thick. It is now used with the AJA Orion 5 Sputter System in Imaging Microscopy Center (IMC) to make Au film on substrates such as glass slides and silicon wafer via high vacuum deposition. Coating Au on substrates is widely used by many users in chemistry, physics, and biomedical engineering to develop miniaturized devices for chemical and biomedical applications.

The management team
Omar Skalli (faculty): e-mail: imc@memphis.edu, Phone: (901) 678-1730 or
Felio Perez: e-mail: imc@memphis.edu Phone: (901) 678-4441

Example of research use
The Huang group in Chemistry is a heavy user of the Au target. Using the Au slides made with the Au target, her group is developing miniaturized devices to detect and analyze exosomes and other types of extracellular vesicles for fundamental cancer research and development of a new generation cancer liquid biopsy. Using the Au slides made by IMC with the Au target, her group has generated one manuscript under revision (Theoranostics. Impact factor: 8.8) and one invention disclosure (in the process). It also helped her generate substantial amount of preliminary data that enable us to resubmit a NIH R21 proposal. Read the full documentation on the equipment.

Computer Science:  Powerwolf cluster to enable cybersecurity research not suitable on the university HPC system, and use of virtual machines to support multiple operating systems

Unique Capabilities (not available on university's cluster)

  • Availability of Virtual Machines to support OSs other than CentOS
  • Capability for users to donate nodes for guaranteed usage
  • Installing and using other software that might not be allowed to install on the University's cluster
  • Sudo permissions for software with approval from cluster admin

Hardware Summary The computer science cluster is provided by PSSC labs and is called the Powerwolf cluster. It is housed at the McWherter Library Computer room (309). It consists of one master node and 8 compute nodes. The cluster has a lot of room to expand in the future and users are encouraged to contribute nodes. Contributed nodes would have guaranteed availability to the contributors. The specification of a qualified contributed node is determined by the department with a typical cost between $3000 and $4000.

Total CPU cores: 180 (160 for compute nodes); total memory: 640GB (512 GB for compute nodes); total disk space: 33.9TB. 

Earth Sciences:  PhaseOne IQ40 Digital Back for digital integration of Hasselblad V system camera and lenses

The PhaseOne IQ140 digital back is used with a medium format camera (Hasselblad V system) to take high resolution images. The digital back's 50MP (8272 x 6200 pixels) CMOS (complementary-metal-oxide-semiconductor) sensor is twice the size of a full frame 35mm digital single lens reflex sensor, which means the information capture is twice that of a conventional 35mm sensor. The digital back captures 65MB on average in RAW format. The camera system, including various lenses (50mm, 80mm, and 120mm) and the digital back, will be used to photograph archaeological, geographical, and geological landscapes and sites, as well as artifacts, cores, and various specimens. Additional information can be found at this link.

Physics:  Time-resolved single photon counting and low temperature photoluminescence systems

The TCSPC system includes two very sensitive detectors (PDM photodiodes with 30 ps time resolution, single photon sensitivity), a reference photodiode (TDA 200), and an electronic timing box (Picoharp 300, 4 ps time resolution).This TCSP system offers a powerful capability to the optical study of the broad areas of physics, materials science, chemistry, and biology. Read additional information about this instrument.