San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

September 7th, 2011
Texas State lands big tiny-tech grant


The National Science Foundation recently gave Texas State University’s Department of Engineering Technology a $486,599 grant for equipment upgrades to facilitate advanced research.

The grant award will help fund an advanced materials processing system called an “inductively coupled plasma-reactive ion etching system.” The system will allow researchers to define structures with very precise dimensions using dry etching. According to university officials, such processing systems help manufacture smaller and smaller devices.

According to university officials, Texas State has had much success with competitive grants recently.

“It’s a good example of how Texas State is increasing its research profile,” said Thomas Myers, director of Texas State’s Materials Science, Engineering and Commercialization Department. “In order to do state-of-the-art research, you have to have the correct set of tools. By getting external funding, we have managed to pull-in millions of dollars worth of equipment.”

The etching system project’s principle investigator is In-Hyouk Song, assistant professor in the university’s Department of Engineering Technology. Co-principle investigators include Texas State’s Byoung Hee You, Edwin Piner, Hsing-Huang Tseng and Maggie Yihong Chen.
The university will place the etching system in the College of Science’s newly-renovated “clean room,” Myers said. Many university researchers in departments specializing in engineering technology, physics and chemistry, will use the system, Myers said.

“It allows us to do cutting-edge research and to train students in cutting-edge research that otherwise would not have happened,” said Myers, who is also the associate dean of science at Texas State.

The grant for the etching system is one of Texas State’s largest awards from the National Science Foundation. The NSF grant to the university for a scanning electron microscope, awarded two years ago, was slightly larger. Both awards were funded through the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program.

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