FEI demonstrated the world's first tabletop scanning electron microscope (SEM) designed specifically for education on Capitol Hill last week. The Phenom-Ed provides magnification up to 20,000x -- far beyond the range of traditional optical microscopes giving students access to micro- and nanoscale worlds rarely seen in undergraduate and high school studies. Congressman David Wu (D-OR), Congresswoman Darlene Hooley (D-OR), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Gordon Smith (D-OR), among many other guests, attended the unveiling.
FEI developed the microscope to bring a new teaching dimension to the classroom and foster interest in advanced science education. It is envisioned that the Phenom-Ed will provide educators a tool to greatly enhance traditional teaching methods and open the door for the next generation of innovative scientists.
"We believe that the Phenom-Ed is the future of science education. It is easy to use, affordable and truly brings the study of science, technology, engineering and math to life for students," said Don Kania, President and CEO of FEI. "The Phenom-Ed embodies the commitment to improving technical education through innovation and will enhance the infrastructure to support the growth of science and technology in the U.S."
The Phenom-Ed promotes active learning and interest in science by giving students an interactive, dynamic and fun learning tool. Fully-automated and easy-to-use, the system is the world's first electron microscope with an interactive touch screen. About the size of a desk-top PC, the Phenom-Ed is a completely self-contained high-tech laboratory that can inspire students to explore the microscopic and nanoscale structures of such specimens as, bacteria, cells, plankton, insects, pollens, metals, forensic specimens, semiconductors, minerals and more. While teachers make the connection to core curriculum topics, students remain engaged and interested.
"The Phenom-Ed brings to life aspects of science and technology that have traditionally been somewhat abstract through classroom instruction," noted Skip Rung of the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute. "This table-top scanning electron microscope makes it possible to teach the scientific investigative techniques and inquiry skills that have traditionally been taught at the advanced university level."
Today's Phenom-Ed demonstrations will feature experts from the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), an FEI partner in developing the tabletop SEM, as well as scientists and engineers involved in the development of the microscope and professors engaged in the beta-testing phase. They will answer questions for congressional leaders and provide insight into the impact of this technology breakthrough and future opportunities for science education.
The Phenom-Ed is in the final stages of beta-testing at the Ohio State University, Jackson State University, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Chemeketa Community College, Winona State University, and Portland State University.
The development of the tabletop SEM was based upon work supported by the Department of Energy Solar Energy Program under Award Number DE-FG36-06GO86073 and the Department of Energy Biological and Environmental Research under Award Number DE-FG02-06ER64248.
The Phenom-Ed will be launched in the third quarter of this year. A similar table-top SEM system, optimized for a wide range of industrial applications will also be released later this year.