As design and production methods become more technologically sophisticated, design professionals must possess the scientific literacy and interdisciplinary aptitude to understand advanced materials—such as polymers, biomaterials and nanomaterials—and the underlying science behind them. The scanning electron microscope provides a qualitative composition, with which students can more closely analyze differing materials. By studying materials science, students learn to integrate sustainability into product design, development, and manufacturing, and to make environmentally conscious choices.
The scanning electron microscope will be used for ongoing research on biomaterials and nanomaterials and enable new studies, such as integrating nanoparticles into textiles, characterizing pigments and mordants in old garments and accessories to enhance preservation, and enhanced curation of the collections at The Museum at FIT. The SEM will also enable the study of electron-beam interactions, to explore nanocoatings on luxury items. These research projects enhance student learning related to the development and use of materials.
The scanning electron microscope will improve the efficiency of materials research at FIT, providing on-site characterization capabilities. The fashion industry urgently needs scientific advances, which translates to numerous opportunities for faculty researchers. With the SEM, FIT is directly addressing an NSF priority: increasing scientific knowledge among students with non-STEM majors, while expanding the laboratory equipment on campus and developing and enriching curricula.
FIT students are ideal candidates to explore the intersections between science and design disciplines. The use of SEM in the classroom will better prepare students to be leaders and innovators in design-related STEM fields.