As we learn to live with COVID-19, and with many of the pandemic restrictions now being lifted, the core facilities under the NCI-SW umbrella are now operating at pre-pandemic levels. Users are back on the ASU and NAU campuses making new scientific discoveries with technological applications that address some of the key challenges of our time. One area of growing interest is the use of diamond for high power electronics and extreme environment applications. Diamond has the highest thermal conductivity of any known material, and for high power applications that need to run hot the ability to extract heat efficiently is a high priority. And diamond has other useful properties such as the ability to withstand huge electric fields and operate at the extremes of temperature and at high radiation levels. The new ULTRA Center at ASU comprises researchers from multiple universities and is being funded by the Department of Energy to develop diamond and other so-called wide band gap materials for the electrical grid of the future. And with the extremely strong bonding between diamond carbon atoms, electronic sensors and other diamond devices are ideally suited for the radiation detectors being developed by Advent Diamond. These and other applications of diamond as the new ‘wonder material’ are described below.


ASU is now one step closer to being able to probe matter at the atomic and molecular scale with ultrafast x ray probes using a first-of-its-kind compact x-ray free electron laser, or CXFEL for short. The CXFEL is housed in the new Biodesign C building on the ASU campus. With philanthropic support and grants from the National Science Foundation the instrument achieved its phase 1 goals with the demonstration of a compact x-ray light source. Since then, a team of researchers led by Bill Graves, director of CXFEL spectroscopy for the NCI-SW, have focused on the next phase of the project that will produce more powerful X-rays with shorter pulse durations. As explained below, the CXFEL will allow scientists to explore the structure and dynamics of nature and materials as never before.


With visitors once again encouraged back to our campuses we are excited to renew our Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) summer internship program. The program runs thru May 31 – July 29 and will allow current undergraduates to work with ASU and NAU faculty on practical, hands-on research projects. The REU internship comes with a $6,000 stipend and we are currently accepting applications.