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MIT’s Director Uses Characterization Tools To Help Researchers Discover Next-gen Technologies

Yusuf Balogun
Yusuf Balogun
Yusuf is a law graduate and freelance journalist with a keen interest in tech reporting.

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Anna Osherov, an assistant director for Characterization.nano is using MIT.nano to help researchers navigate state-of-the-art technologies such as electron microscopy and spectroscopy, as well as instruments that measure mechanical, electrical, magnetic, and topographic properties.

Osherov helps researchers comprehend the nanoscale down to an atom using MIT.nano’s characterization tools by navigating a complex array of capabilities to apply the power of nanotechnology to new discoveries and next-generation technologies.

“Many of these tools are too expensive for individual labs to acquire and maintain, and too sensitive for use outside of highly-controlled environments,” says Osherov. “MIT.nano makes them more accessible and effective by grouping them in a central facility where they are open to the MIT community, as well as qualified external users from industry and academia.”

When MIT.nano officially began hiring employees in 2018, she was one of the first. Her area of expertise includes accurate nanoscale analysis, imaging, and metrology equipment. In Osherov’s area, the majority of the tools are either in cleanrooms or prototyping labs, where they are shielded from electromagnetic interference and vibration.

MIT.nano also houses complementary suites of manufacturing tools for creating and packaging novel materials and gadgets, which are managed by her staff counterpart Jorg Scholvin in addition to the various instruments she is in charge of.

Each month, Osherov and her coworkers help dozens of users. She is well-positioned to cross-pollinate ideas and provide guidance because of her exposure to numerous initiatives.

“Using equipment hands-on provides insight on the nuances of its capabilities and limitations that otherwise can be overlooked,” she observes. For example, knowing the characteristics of the surface on which the consecutive layers of new materials are deposited is crucial. “That’s the canvas; it can dramatically affect further processing and the ultimate performance of the devices.”

Osherov is in charge of the program for the on-site trial usage of instruments since she anticipates what researchers will require next. The Raith VELION focused ion beam scanning electron microscope is one illustration. It makes it possible to create 2D and 3D nanostructures and makes it easier to research electrical transport and surface modification. 

Osherov collaborated with several principal investigators to get funds for the microscope’s purchase, which was initially set up as a long-term demonstration.

“Validating that the instrument is useful for a diverse community at MIT and pursuing the grant to keep it on campus is a solid approach for shared equipment acquisition, she added.”


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