SBIR Phase I: Feasibility of Teaching Polarized Light Microscopy in an Innovative Virtual Analysis Environment

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 0712126
Agency Tracking Number: 0712126
Amount: $100,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2007
Solicitation Year: 2006
Solicitation Topic Code: IT
Solicitation Number: NSF 06-598
Small Business Information
350 HOCHBERG RD, Ste 2100-162, Monroeville, PA, 15146
DUNS: 052545431
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Stephen Kennedy
 (724) 325-1776
Business Contact
 Stephen Kennedy
Title: PhD
Phone: (724) 325-1776
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I research project will demonstrate the feasibility of developing an innovative virtual analysis environment to educate, train and test post secondary students and professionals in the use of polarized light microscopy (PLM). The key innovative contribution will be the design of an advanced PLM simulator and a virtual analysis environment that can be delivered via the Internet or CD/DVD. Polarized light microscopy was selected because it is a fundamental teaching and research resource in diverse areas of materials characterization, and has significant commercial potential. The simulated PLM will supplement actual PLM instrumentation in teaching laboratories, or could be implemented where such instruments are not available. The key objectives of this Phase I proposal are to: 1) design a PLM GUI with areas for function control and image viewing; 2) design the virtual analysis environment architecture to support PLM utilization of 'stacks' of images (either focal plane and Becke line, or interference colors with stage rotation); 3) assess the functionality with respect to ease of use, realism, response time, and image quality; 4) test the PLM prototype simulator with appropriate students and professionals; and 5) develop the outline of an educational module(s) incorporating the PLM simulator. The commercial potential of products based on PLM simulation for forensic and geology is conservatively estimated to be on the order of $2,000,000 per year. However, the applications of the virtual analysis environment are far reaching into commercial, industrial and other related educational markets. Once the basic virtual analysis environment is optimized, the market for related products would have the potential to expand into other areas of education and thousands of laboratories around the world. Such a program will play a role in the national need for highly qualified graduates ready to fill positions in science and technology related fields. The technology discussed in this proposal supports the concept of lifelong learning. Further, products developed in this effort support the NSF efforts in establishing the Cyberinfrastructure (CI) as a resource that will bring the digital revolution into the classroom.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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