Research Facilities and Equipment (CBE)

The department offers a wide variety of facilities to support and develop research activities.

Air Pollution Computational, Field, and Laboratory Studies

The department maintains extensive facilities for computational, field, and laboratory studies of air pollution, carbon cycle gases, aerosols, and nanoparticles at the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (CGRER). The center occupies 5,000 square feet of laboratory and office space on the fourth floor of the Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories.

CGRER houses one R2 ImmersaDesk Portable Large Scale Visualization System and is linked on campus to two more R2 ImmersaDesk units.

The center's computer laboratory for environmental and spatial data analysis provides numerous Windows and UNIX workstations, sophisticated software packages, and workstations and a file server necessary to run intensive visualization programs. The network backbone is University supported with high-speed wireless throughout. A variety of digital environmental databases and an extensive library of documentation and related references are available. There are 4 Beowulf Linux clusters on site and Linux clusters of 4, 16, 18, and 20 nodes for large computations and data assimilation. CGRER retains 15 TB of redundant storage and 50 TB of total storage; local storage space is scalable and expandable. A variety of software packages and programming languages are available for data analysis and display, including Arc/Info, Arcview, NCAR Graphics, Matlab, S-Plus, and Vis5d, as well as geographical information software. The ESRI software suite is part of a University-wide site license.

Laboratory and field equipment includes aerosol samplers, including scanning mobility particles sizers for aerosols from 3 nm to 1 micron with time resolution to 30 seconds; aerosol particle sizers for aerodynamic measurements of in situ particles with time resolution to 1 second; and varied condensation particle counters for measuring total particle counts. Several hygroscopic tandem differential mobility analyzers are used, as well as varied aerosol generation devices and unique aerosol inlets for RH and temperature modification and control. Cloud droplet number can be measured in the lab or in the field using a Droplet Measurement Technologies cloud condensation nuclei detector. Advanced computer control of instruments is available through Labview.

Selected instruments are field deployable in a custom air conditioned trailer. Through collaboration with the IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, access to micrometeorology sensors, 1-D and 2-D elastic and Raman LIDAR, and gas sensors is available, including multichannel ammonia monitors.

Biochemical Engineering

Biochemical engineering laboratories provide facilities for preparation of biological media and cultivation of organisms as well as for separation and analysis of biomolecules. This equipment includes biological incubators and floor incubator shakers, agitated and airlift bioreactors, light microscopes, autoclaves, Vi-Cell cell counter, thermocycler for PCR amplification of DNA, high- and low-speed centrifuges, UV-Vis spectrophotometers, a lyophilizer, biological safety cabinets, and an anaerobic glove box. Phase-contrast and epifluorescence microscopes, gel electrophoresis systems, gas chromatography units with flame ionization and electron capture detectors, and several high-performance liquid chromatography systems with refractive index and photodiode array detectors are available for characterization of microorganisms and constituent biomolecules. In addition, the lab has multiple extremophile cultivation systems including a high-pressure (0.1-100 MPa) cell cultivation system, several continuous cultivation systems, and high-temperature oil bath shakers for physiological studies of extremophilic microbes.

Through collaborative research agreements, graduate students also have access to specialized facilities for electron microscopy, large-scale fermentation, protein structure, recombinant DNA research, and tissue culture/hybridoma; the Flow Cytometry Facility; and the High Resolution Mass Spectrometry Facility.

Biomedical Research

The biomedical engineering laboratories house particle technology equipment including microemulsion equipment for drug encapsulation, sonicators, benchtop scale spray dryers, laser diffraction particle sizer, zetapotentiometer; DNA preparation equipment, gel electrophoresis apparatus, interfacial stress rheometer, surface tensiometer, UV-Vis/fluorescent plate reader, high-performance liquid chromatograph, luminometer, lyophilizer, custom-built simulated cough machine, microscopes, incubators, wet chemistry equipment, rotary shakers, incubated plate shakers, autoclave, centrifuges, and laboratory computers. Cell culture and bacterial culture facilities are housed adjacent to the laboratories.

Graduate students also have access to core research facilities including the Central Microscopy Research Facility, Flow Cytometry Facility, DNA Facility, Electron Spin Resonance Facility, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility, High Resolution Mass Spectrometry Facility, and the Center for Gene Therapy.

Computer Facilities

The departmental computer facilities contain a variety of graphics workstations, printers, and microcomputers. The department is supported by the college's Engineering Computer Services, which maintains a large network of high performance UNIX and Windows XP workstations along with extensive commercial and public domain software. The department also has access to the University's central research facility in high-speed vector computation. This facility has SGI Power Challenger minisupercomputers and provides nodes for external links for access to supercomputers.

Photopolymerization Science and Engineering Facilities

The Photopolymerization Center was established to advance fundamental understanding of the kinetics and mechanisms of photopolymerizations. To this end, the center provides unique opportunities for collaborations by industrial and academic investigators to explore photopolymerization processes and develop novel applications based on photopolymerizations.

The center provides equipment and instrumentation for the characterization of photopolymerization systems on the molecular, microscopic, and macroscopic levels. Center researchers pursue understanding of fundamental photophysical and photochemical processes involved in the photoinitiation reaction; characterization of high-speed propagation and termination kinetics that lead to the polymer structure; and evaluation of material properties through the course of the photopolymerization reaction. Both radical and cationic photopolymerizations are studied with state-of-the-art experimental techniques to elucidate the complex chemical and physical mechanisms that control the initiation, propagation, and termination of the active centers.

Surface Science

Some of the equipment and techniques currently available for studying surface science include chemisorption and physisorption (BET), microbalance, mass spectrometer system, gas chromatography, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmissions electron microscopy (CTEM), and a variety of reactor systems and catalyst preparation facilities.