The Garcia Center operates as a "laboratory without walls." As in the past, graduate, undergraduate, and high school students will have unrestricted access to all listed facilities. Post-docs at each campus will continue to oversee operation of the more complex instruments. Mini-courses will be introduced to familiarize students with the principles as well as the practical aspects of key instrumentation. In addition, videoconferencing and internet technology will be employed to allow remote access to major instruments, beginning with the TOF-SIMS at Queens College. Outside grants will defray a substantial portion of the maintenance costs. The listed national facilities are directly accessible to the PIs through existing collaborations and agreements.
We have one major instrument - a confocal microscope - to serve all participants. The confocal microscope can be used to produce video images of DNA chains on chemically patterned surfaces in the electrophoresis experiments. The chain dynamics can be compared to computer simulations of the effect of surface friction on chain mobility. We will design a temperature controlled stage to follow spinodal decomposition in polymer blends labeled with fluorescent probes. This will allow studies of the kinetics of surface mobility and phase transitions as a function of filler type, surface interaction, and constraint. A Leica Spectral TCS SP system has the requisite sensitivity and spatial resolution for these studies.
We have access to a unique "sensing mode" atomic force microscope located at LifeAFM, Inc., just a few minutes from the Stony Book campus (see letter from P. Hugh). This AFM, invented at Brookhaven National Labs, induces far less damage to sensitive specimens, and is capable of revealing, for example, the helical periodicity of DNA molecules. The instrument has strong potential for studies of "soft" or "sticky" molecules in buffer solution.