The Digital Microscopy Classroom

The Digital Microscopy Classroom is part of the J. Earle and Mary Roberts Materials Characterization Laboratory in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

The facility was officially opened on September 25, 1998, with a Symposium on the use of remote control resources in the teaching of electron microscopy. The facility has since been used extensively for both undergraduate and graduate level courses.

Technical details about the facility have been described in the following paper:

The Digital Microscopy Classroom, M. De Graef, N.T. Nuhfer, and N.J. Cleary, Microscopy and Microanalysis, Vol. 8, pp. 176-181, 2002


The floorplan of the facility is shown below:


Here are a few views from the back and front of the room:


The computer cluster consists of 11 Compaq TRU64 UNIX workstations (six in the front row, and five on the table in the back of the room), and 7 Windows NT machines (six on the second row, and one on the lectern at the front of the room). The computers are all linked together by two different networks: the conventional LAN (Local Area Network), currently 10 BaseT, and indicated by the red lines in the schematic below, and the baseband network which connects the keyboards amd mice of 13 computers in the room to the CPU's of a TEM (Philips Tecnai F20) and an SEM (Philips XL30).

This switching setup is controlled from a touchpanel mounted on the lectern in front of the room. The teacher can select a workstation in the room and connect its mouse and keyboard to one of the microscope CPUs. The video signal from that microscope is then rerouted to the local monitor and to the main projection screen. One student at a time can hence remotely operate the microscope. Note that this baseband network exists independently of the machines in the room, so that it does not matter which operating system (UNIX or NT) is used. No software is involved in the remote control operation other than the touchpanel program.

For more information on this remote control setup, please contact Marc De Graef.