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Juan-Carlos Idrobo, research scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and research associate professor at Vanderbilt University, has spent twelve years working in the field of electron microscopy.

He’ll be discussing its applications at the Science Forum on March 1.

The Science Forum is a weekly brown-bag lunch series that allows professors and area scientists to discuss their research and the general public to learn about science through a conversational presentation.

The weekly presentations begin at noon on Fridays in Room C-D of Thompson-Boling Arena. Attendees can bring lunch or purchase it at the arena. Each presentation is forty minutes long and is followed by a question-and-answer session. Science Forum presentations are free and open to the public.

Electron microscopes, similar to optical microscopes, are used to reveal the structure of small objects. Electron microscopes make use of the properties of electrons to magnify small objects for study instead of using light, as in optical microscopes.

“Electron microscopes have been around since the early 1930s. But only in the last thirteen years has the technology matured to the point that we can study materials literally atom by atom,” Idrobo said.

Idrobo uses electron microscopy to study, at the atomic scale, the chemical bonding and optical properties of graphene. Graphene is a pure-carbon substance similar to graphite, but lighter. These properties can be applied in the production of novel electronic devices and more efficient energy-related materials.

Future Science Forums will feature:

  • March 8: Dr. Paul Campbell Erwin, professor and head of the Department of Public Health, presenting “John Snow and Cholera: The Foundation for Modern Disease Investigation.”
  • March 15: Kevin Hoyt, director of UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center, presenting “The Proposed UT AgResearch Gas and Oil Well Research Project.”
  • April 5: William T. Bogart, president of Maryville College and professor of economics there, discussing “Cargo Cult Economic Policy: Urban Development and Green Energy.”
  • April 12: Stephanie K. Drumheller-Horton, instructor of earth and planetary sciences, presenting “Crocodylian Bite Marks in the Fossil Record.”
  • April 19: Devon M. Burr, assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences, discussing “The Moon That Would Be A Planet: Saturn’s Giant Titan.”
  • April 26: Joan Markel, curator of Civil War exhibits at the McClung Museum, presenting “Digging into Our Civil War Past.”

The Science Forum is sponsored by the UT Office of Research. For more information about the Science Forum, visit the Office of Research website.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,

Holly Gary (865-974-2225,