In Photos: Chemistry class prepares for research fair

Student prepares mask sample for SEM

Mask samples were coated in metal to prepare for the scanning electron microscope. The machine directs a beam of electrons at the subject and producing a high resolution scanned image for review. Here, August Mendoza gently places a square of metal-coated mask on a peg for the machine. 

Credit: Brooke Doerfler

SHARON, Pa. — Students in the class "Experimental Chemistry" are exploring how washing masks impacts the fabric's fiber structure. 

The class utilized Penn State Shenango's scanning electron microscope (SEM) that produces high resolution images for comparison as they review samples that have endured varying numbers of washing and drying cycles. 

SEMs aim a beam of electrons at metal-coated samples to create a detailed view of the mask structure. Most students don't have the opportunity to work with a SEM until graduate studies, but Shenango students have the opportunity to utilize the $1 million machine as soon as their first semester to conduct research. 

Students August Mendoza, Chelsea Spatara, Jake Dyll and Alyssa Kelly will present their findings at the Penn State  Shenango Undergraduate Research Fair in April.