Novel instrumentation often drives advances in research by providing unprecedented insight into new phenomena. Several national reports by the National Academies and federal agencies have documented the importance and impact of leading-edge instrumentation on the advancement of research. At the frontiers of their fields, our investigators are often inventing the next generation tools. During this report period the URF supported 23 projects that developed or acquired advanced instrumentation to achieve their research objectives. An additional 13 relied specifically on the application of advanced instrumentation in a unique manner.
The impact of investment in research instrumentation is often much broader than that of the proposed project. For example, the Zetasizer in chemistry supports research in biological, biophysical, and materials chemistry, is used by undergraduates in research labs and can be the basis of exercises in a physical chemistry course. The Single Molecule Fluorescent Microscope and the Field Controlled Quantum Probes are examples of home-built instruments with exquisite performance that surpasses anything available on the market.