Washington State Magazine

Summer 2003

Summer 2003

In This Issue...


Building the Perfect Bone :: With a new baby as inspiration, and an interdisciplinary team to help, husband and wife Amit Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose have set out to solve the puzzle of how to imitate nature's growth of the human bone.

"Problem" Is a Good Word :: There are no stars at Miller/Hull Partnership.

Cooking for 7,000 :: So what are students eating? Just about everything. And how much?

With Eyes Wide Open :: Margarita Mendoza de Sugiyama is on the lookout for crooks, "really slimy crooks."

Survival Science :: Joanna Ellington champions fecundity.



:: WHAT DON'T WE KNOW:How do bonds break?

:: SEASONS|SPORTS:High jumper with a head for finance

:: SEASONS|SPORTS:Cougars come home again to coach

:: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN:The friends you keep & the wealth you reap

:: PERSPECTIVE:The great conversation

:: A SENSE OF PLACE:Emerald winters, brown summers


Shohom Bose Bandyopadhyay, son of Amit Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose, has perfected the art of bone-building. Read the story. Photograph by Robert Hubner.

Students say Tom Dickinson's enthusiasm about science is infectious. As a result, he was honored with the 2003 Marian E. Smith Faculty Achievement Award for his teaching. Robert Hubner

Students say Tom Dickinson's enthusiasm about science is infectious. As a result, he was honored with the 2003 Marian E. Smith Faculty Achievement Award for his teaching. Robert Hubner

How do bonds break?

by | © Washington State University

The underlying question that motivates my current work is,

What are the forces on atoms and ions associated with surfaces that result in these particles leaving or reattaching to the surface when stimulated with an outside agent?

These surfaces may be surrounded by very high vacuum or by an aqueous solution. The stimulation that assists the motion of the atoms or ions may be a laser or electron beam, or it might be a very sharp, hard tip pushing on the surface. In all cases, the rate of particle removal or attachment, the speeds or energies of the particles involved, and even the direction they fly or attach, are of interest. With careful physical measurements we are able to detect these properties and compare the behavior of these particles with models based on fundamental physics and chemistry. Nevertheless, the details of how these particles are displaced are still poorly understood. —Tom Dickinson, Professor of Physics

Think small. Think very small.

Dickinson studies surfaces at the nano-scale. Nano means one-billionth (10 -9). Dickinson uses an atomic force microscope to manipulate single atoms.

Going tribo.

Imagine trying to wash your dishes without water. Using mechanical means to clean dried food off a plate would be laborious. Using water and soap puts dishwashing in the science of "tribochemistry," using both mechanical and chemical means to break the bonds of that dried food from the surface of the plate.

Dickinson uses tribochemistry in a "one-two" punch to break bonds on surfaces of selected materials. In the photographs, he has used an atomic force microscope and water to remove atoms from the surface of a piece of brushite, a biomineral the occurs naturally in the early stages of bone and kidney stone formation.

Why would anyone want to remove atoms from a surface?

Dickinson's work is of great interest to the microchip industry. A process called "chemical mechanical planarization" is at the heart of the chip industry. Think polishing. Microchips have to be very smooth. In fact, chips are polished as many as 15 times during manufacturing. The details of how the process works, says Dickinson, are not well understood. Use too much abrasive material, and the chip's destroyed. Rely too much on chemicals, and nothing happens. Put the two together, and you have CMP.

Sounds simple, right?

Again, think nano-scale. Smaller chips for smaller computers. This planarization process is an annual subject at three international professional meetings.

Categories: Physics, Chemistry | Tags: Atoms

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