The Small-Molecule X-Ray Crystallography Facility in the Department of Chemistry has been awarded a prestigious and highly competitive grant from the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award of $383,133 (70% NSF, 30% UK matching funds) will fund the acquisition of a state-of-the-art microfocus X-ray diffractometer.
X-ray crystallography has long been considered the 'gold-standard' for providing detailed atomic-level structural information for molecules in chemical, pharmaceutical, and materials research. The award proposal by X-Ray Facility director Sean Parkin, Department of Chemistry professors Susan Odom, Phoebe Glazer, and John Anthony, and College of Pharmacy professor Oleg Tsodikov will modernize and dramatically enhance structural chemistry research instrumentation at UK. The new instrument will provide accurate and precise data to rationalize structure-property relationships required in the design and optimization of functional materials. Capabilities enabled by the state-of-the-art design include, but are not limited to: 1) rapid data collection (minutes/hours vs. hours/days); 2) very small crystals (>10x smaller than conventional instruments); 3) time-resolved diffraction; 4) in-situ phase transitions and polymorphism; 5) twins and other aggregates.
In addition to its research role, the new diffractometer will form the core of instructional and outreach efforts in small-molecule crystallography at the University of Kentucky. Beyond UK, the diffractometer will foster growth of our network of collaborators that rely on the UK X-Ray Facility. Instructional and outreach activities at the graduate, undergraduate, and high-school levels will benefit not only UK personnel, but also students at colleges and high schools in the region. This new state-of-the-art system will be used for teaching in a laboratory-based crystallography course, for class assignments in our undergraduate inorganic chemistry teaching laboratories, and in ad-hoc training of Faculty, post-docs, students, visiting scholars, summer students, high-school senior interns, and students from UK's high-school STEAM academy.