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M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Grant bolsters Boise State’s nanoscale research infrastructure

Researchers at Boise State University have been awarded a $320,400 grant by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to purchase an Atomic Force Microscopy–Infrared Spectroscopy (AFM-IR) system. This unique, cutting-edge equipment will enable researchers to chemically map materials at the nanoscale, and will play a critical role in building Boise State’s and the region’s material science research and education infrastructure.

“We are truly honored by the recognition of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and their support of Boise State’s transformative research endeavors,” said Dr. Marlene Tromp, Boise State president. “This gift will support our incredible path-breaking research in nanomaterials, where our faculty researchers are solving real-world problems related to quantum computing, water purification, drug development and delivery, improving battery life, investigating chemotherapy treatments and more.”

For students and faculty at Boise State, the AFM-IR system makes it possible to “obtain nanoscale chemical information about a material, how the material interacts with light at the nanoscale, and how materials carry heat at the nanoscale,” said principal investigator Dave Estrada, an associate professor in the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering.

This system will also empower graduate and undergraduate students’ research experience and make them more competitive in educational, professional and industrial capacities. Co-principal investigators include Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering Surface Science Laboratory manager Paul Davis and associate professor Elton Graugnard.

“Advancing the work of scientific research at leading institutions across the Pacific Northwest like Boise State University has been a primary focus for the Murdock Trust since we opened our doors 45 years ago. We have been grateful to partner with Boise State University through a variety of projects over that timeframe and we are pleased to see their work gaining a national reputation in many areas of study, including science and engineering,” said Dr. Moses Lee, senior program director of Scientific Research and Enrichment Programs at the Murdock Trust. “We congratulate the university in completing the Micron Center for Materials Research and we are pleased to stand behind the state-of-the-art atomic force microscope project.”

“The generosity of the Murdock Trust has helped enable Boise State to follow our path towards realizing our role as an innovative, transformative research University. We appreciate the foundation’s belief that we will continue to deliver on high-impact science and engineering,” said Harold Blackman, interim vice president for the Division of Research and Economic Development.

According to Estrada, the AFM-IR system is already garnering interest and opening doors for collaboration with research universities such as Penn State, as well as regional facilities and laboratories.

“Researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, as well as regional industry and academic institutions, would all benefit from access to this tool. It really does provide a unique capability that will build new research collaborations in support of Boise State’s educational mission,” said Estrada.

About M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to nonprofit organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest—Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington—that seek to strengthen the region’s educational, social, spiritual, and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways.