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SHSU's chemistry department to buy diffractometer

Staff Reporter

Published: Monday, January 20, 2014

Updated: Monday, January 20, 2014 21:01

Sam Houston State University’s chemistry department is taking a step to enrich research at the university by purchasing a much-needed piece of equipment.

In an effort to enhance the knowledge of molecular structures of complex ionic substances, Richard Norman, Ph.D., of the department of chemistry has been approved to purchase a single-crystal X-ray diffractometer.

Since coming on as faculty at SHSU, Norman said he has continuously requested the diffractometer for the past nine years.

“It is a fundamental, necessary technique that we have not had the equipment available to us here,” Norman said.

The diffractometer is used to determine the atomic or molecular structure of a crystal, Norman said. This method was fundamental in the determination of the structure of DNA.

While the diffractometer is not new technology, it has been vital to the advancement of medicine and DNA research. The technology was crucial in solving the structure of penicillin, vitamin B12, and insulin, all of which have helped advance modern medicine, according to Nobelprize.org.

According to Norman, whose dissertation work involved X-ray crystallography, it is important to understand how atoms are connected to understand the structure and identity of materials being researched.

Bids to sell the equipment to SHSU are set to end Wednesday. According to Norman, the department is hoping to receive the diffractometer before the end of the semester.

According to the bid invitation document, bids of more than $100,000 are expected.

The equipment will be used to further structure determination with graduate and undergraduate research at the university. Eventually, it could be used in the advanced integrated laboratory.

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