“At the beginning of February I attended the 16th Australian Conference on Electron Microscopy (MicrOZcopy 2000) in Canberra. As part of the Scanning Probe Microscopy session, I gave a presentation titled ‘Nano-mechanical properties of polymers using the scanning probe microscope’. My co-authors were Dr M.G. Huson and Dr X.J. Dai, both of CSIRO Textile and Fibre Technology.”

Jane Maxwell

As part of my PhD I am using the Scanning Probe Microscope (SPM) to gather information about various components of normal and modified wool fibres. The SPM, however, is a relatively new piece of equipment and therefore its applications are still developing. Some controversy also exists over the best ways in which to calibrate various components of the machine. I have therefore spent some time developing preferred methods of use and investigated numerous calibration procedures. The presentation I gave at the conference covered this initial work as well as some results obtained on polymer-coated wool fibres.

While at the conference, I was awarded one of three Australian Microbeam Analysis Society (AMAS) student awards. The award is designed to assist students to attend and give presentations at the Second Meeting of the International Union of Microbeam Analysis Societies (IUMAS 2000) to be held in Hawaii during July 2000. The award covers the cost of air fares and conference registration.

The presentation I will give at IUMAS 2000 is titled ‘Effects of humidity on biological fibres measured using the scanning probe microscope’. The presentation will cover work investigating the role of various cellular components of the wool fibre during water uptake, determination of the humidity at which each component passes through its glass transition and the ‘hardness’ of the fibre surface. These will be determined using the SPM, which, as suggested by the title, can be operated under a range of environmental conditions to obtain both topographical and nano-mechanical information about a sample.

In this issue of The Wool Press: