Network Access to CAMM's Electron Microscopes Offers Shared Instrumentation Benefits to Education, Industry

COLUMBUS, Ohio – December 1, 2006 – A set of the world’s most powerful electron microscopes can now be accessed remotely by researchers and commercial industries over the Internet, thanks to collaborations between the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) and The Ohio State University’s Center for Accelerated Maturation of Materials (CAMM). 

Using OSC’s Third Frontier Network (TFN) – the most advanced regional network in the U.S. – and its network performance measurement tools, CAMM’s scanning/transmission electron microscopes are becoming valuable tools for remote researchers making new discoveries about the structure-property relationships of wide spectrum materials. 

At SC06, an international supercomputing conference held November 11-17, 2006, in Tampa, Florida, a demo of the electron microscope attracted an enthusiastic crowd.  The demo was a first in many respects, traversing the farthest distance – about 1000 miles –and crossing three different Internet Service Providers – TFN, Abilene and SCinet. 

With the increased availability to both the TFN and high performance computing (HPC) provided by OSC, this technology will drastically shorten industrial development processes of new materials, significantly reducing costs.  For example, OSC and CAMM are collaborating with Stark State College of Technology and The Timken Company, a Canton, Ohio, business that develops bearings, alloy steel, and components for aerospace and automotive manufacturers.

“OSC and CAMM are discovering that the network infrastructure is as important as the application technologies that enable remote microscopy, and will allow smaller universities and industries to have real-time remote access to the electron microscopes,” says Dr. Peter Collins, CAMM senior research associate.

CAMM’s advanced microscopes will be made available to the broader research community in Ohio and other selected areas in the U.S. through remote access via the TFN.  To make this remote access possible, OSC will provide and maintain essential high-resolution video image transfers, as well as optimum response times. 

“Without the TFN’s network connection speeds, it would be impossible for Ohio institutions to have remote access to CAMM’s electron microscopes,” said Prasad Calyam, OSC senior systems developer. “Network bottlenecks, or congestion in the network paths, can significantly hinder remote access to high-end microscopes, and even cause damage to the expensive microscope equipment.”

OSC’s network measurement tools, such as ActiveMon, help identify and correct problems and application errors.  Specifically, the H.323 Beacon tool monitors and troubleshoots performance problems that impede high-resolution video transfers occurring when remotely manipulating the microscope controls. 

For now, OSC’s focus is to provide efficient, trouble-free network access and performance monitoring support for CAMM’s remote microscopy efforts. 

“One day,” adds Collins, “we envision a set of shared tools made available to universities, industries, and laboratories nationwide via the Third Frontier Network.”

For more information about remote electron microscopy over the TFN, contact Prasad Calyam at 614/292-8107.

Click here for a video demonstration of the tele-microscopy project.
 
About OSC
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2007, the Ohio Supercomputer Center is a catalytic partner of Ohio universities and industries to enable Ohio to compete for international, federal, and state funding, focusing on new research and business opportunities.  It provides a reliable high performance computing and high performance communications infrastructure for a diverse statewide/regional community including education, academic research, industry, and state government.  Funded by the Ohio Board of Regents, OSC promotes and stimulates computational research and education in order to act as a key enabler for the state's aspirations in advanced technology, information systems, and advanced industries.  For additional information visit: http://www.osc.edu