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Research Highlights

Research Highlights at Surface Science Western

Digitizing Lithium Ores to Help Transition to a Green Future

Global lithium demand is skyrocketing as we transition to the mass adoption of green technology and a carbon neutral economy. Understanding the nature of lithium’s mineralization is vital for its effective extraction from ores and the ability to accurately estimate future deposits. SSW scientists are collaborating with Catriona Breasley, a Ph.D....
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Characterizing the Marine Menace – Microplastics

Microplastics are tiny plastic particles (<5 mm in diameter) that have been found in every ocean and remote part of the planet. It’s widely known that microplastics are environmental pollutants that have drastic effects on animal life, but work is still being undertaken to understand its spread through various systems...
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Susanna’s Secret – A 12th Century German Palimpsest?

A 12th century 'Susannah and the Elders' medieval manuscript, the oldest item that Western has in their rare book collection, dating from around 1125 in Germany, may have been a rare case of a "palimpsest". SSW researchers wanted to look at this faint 90-degree text in higher detail.
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Unravelling the Mysteries of Laundry Microplastic Pollution

To help unravel the mysteries of microplastic pollution in aquatic systems, SSW researchers are working with Juan Li and UWO’s Environmental Engineering department.
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Shakespeare Exposed! SEM Imaging of Old Books

SSW Researchers wanted to test some novel samples inside the Large Chamber VP-SEM, so they imaged whole book! A 1909 copy of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. SSW researchers hypothesized that they could use electrons to actually read the book within the SEM.
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Using Micro-CT in the Electronics Industry

SSW researchers are leveraging non-destructive methods, such as Micro-CT, to analyze and image sensitive electronics. Integrated circuit (IC) micro-electro mechanical system (MEMS) chips are tiny electronic mechanical sensors and actuators that solve a wide variety of modern problems. Their utilization is very popular and their use is expanding with time:...
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Low-Voltage FESEM Imaging of Biofilms

Carlos Munoz, Ph.D. a candidate in the chemical and biochemical engineering department (Western University), used our field-emission scanning electron microscope (FE-SEM) to image his biofilm samples at low accelerating voltages (e.g., 1.5 keV). These low voltages allow very gentle imaging of the cells, and provides very surface sensitive analyses. The...
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SSW working with Anthropology on 500 year old Mummies!

SSW researchers are working with members of the Anthropology department (Andrew Nelson and Emy Roberge) to look at the internal structures of 500 year old sacrificial virgin mummy teeth. We examined thin-sections of two teeth from a cemetery associated with a female institution in Farfán on the North Coast of...
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We are using an FE-SEM equipped with an in-chamber nano-indentor to compress tiny pillars

With the in-chamber nano-indentor attachment, SSW staff along with engineer Konrad Mazurkiewicz, are squishing tiny micron sized pillars of metal inside of Dr. Moser’s (Earth Sciences) FE-SEM… live, while we watch! These are in-situ experiments that are actually occurring inside the SEM. Typically people just use the SEM to observe...
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Investigating a developing mouse skull using Micro-CT

Surface Science Western and Alyssa Moore (Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Western Ontario) are using Micro-CT to image and analyze the bones and cartilages of developing mouse skulls to better understand skull development in normal and disrupted conditions. Alyssa aims to compare normally developed mouse...
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