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Boise Technology, Inc.
5465 E. Terra Linda Way
Nampa, ID 83687
(208) 562-3744
Facsmilie: 208-562-3650
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Boise Technology, Inc. is a specialized research company that utilizes advanced spectroscopic techniques to investigate fundamental scientific problems. Active areas of research are focused on answering important questions in surface science using nonlinear optical spectroscopy. Equipped with scientific expertise and instrumentation, Boise Technology scientists are ready to tackle pressing scientific challenges in physics, chemistry, and biology.

Boise Technology was founded in 2003 as an independent research center for advanced optics and spectroscopy in the Pacific Northwest. Since its inception, substantial research funding has enabled the creation of a research facility in Nampa, Idaho. Current research projects are conducted using two state-of-the-art tunable ultrafast laser systems, considered to be some of the most advanced light sources used for surface spectroscopy in the nation. These advanced laser systems position Boise Technology as an emerging leader in optics and spectroscopic research.The scientific expertise of Boise Technology is represented by its current staff of PhD scientists, multiple independent contract researchers, and several collaborative research relationships. Collectively, our personnel exhibit broad expertise in chemistry, biochemistry, physics, and surface sciences, with specialized capabilities in nonlinear spectroscopy, time-resolved spectroscopy, computational chemistry, and enzymology.

 

Boise Technology's advanced research capabilities stem from its sophisticated lasers systems and optical instrumentation. At the core, are two tunable femtosecond laser systems: a regeneratively amplified, mode-locked titanium-sapphire oscillator, producing intense 30-100fs laser pulses with on-demand wavelength tunability from an automated optical parametric amplifier. In conjunction with these advanced light sources, a collection of optics, optomechanics, electronics, detectors and optical diagnostic instrumentation enables the study of many diverse physical/chemical/biological systems. Current research projects utilize these advanced light sources to conduct vibrational sum frequency generation spectroscopy analysis to study materials of the interest to the Department of Defense at liquid/liquid, liquid/solid, and vapor/solid interfaces. Alternative spectroscopic experiments may be performed with these systems, including ultrafast time-resolved spectroscopies. Additionally, plans are in progress to couple our advanced light sources with sophisticated optical microscopy techniques. Scanning confocal/multiphoton microscopy is a powerful technique to study many physical and biological systems with exceptional spatial resolution. By pairing the confocal microscopy techniques of multi-photon fluorescence and second harmonic generation with an advanced tunable light source, we hope to develop new capabilities in optical microscopy.

 
Research

Current research activities at Boise Technology, Inc. include three main areas of interest that focus on gaining a molecular level view of the interactions, molecular conformation, and spectral signatures of surface species at various solid/vapor surfaces. Vibrational sum frequency generation spectroscopy (VSFG), a nonlinear optical surface specific analytical technique, is the primary analysis tool used in these studies.

Three areas of fundamental research are funded by the Department of Defense. Funding provided through the US Navy is focused towards investigations into important barrier materials and their surface interactions with atmospheric constituents and chemical warfare agent simulants.  The US Army has provided funding to support studies of self-decontaminating materials for protection against chemical warfare agents. The US Air Force has provided funding to support studies aimed at developing a better understanding of the effects of microwave material preparation methods on the surface structure of material of interest.

Barrier Materials

Chemical warfare agents pose a serious threat to military personnel performing critical missions in battle fields across the world.  Polymer-films, -textiles, and -chemically reactive membranes have gained significant attention in recent years for their potential to act as barriers, permeable membranes, and/or self-detoxifying reactive surfaces for protection against these toxic chemicals for both civilian and military applications.  A vast majority of the important chemical and physical interactions that mediate the macroscopic protective behavior of polymer materials towards chemical warfare agents occur at the material surface where the chemical adsorbs.  In addition, the unique properties of cutting-edge polymer technologies are overwhelminingly governed by their distinct and highly adaptable surface functionalities and their interactions with atmospheric constituents in addition to the chemical warfare agents.

Using nonlinear optical spectroscopic techniques, Boise Technology is currently investigating the fundamental chemical and physical interactions at surfaces and interfaces in an effort to gain a greater mechanistic understanding of the numerous processes that occur at polymer surfaces including surface adsorption, desorption, permeability, and decontamination surface chemistry.  In this program, our research has elucidated molecular-level details about adsorbates interacting with material surfaces as well as highlighting surface structural changes in a material as a function of the adjacent molecular environment.  Coupled with measurements of the macroscopic surface properties of the materials, this unique surface perspective helps to provide insight into structure-function/structure-activity relationships that help to facilitate the systematic design of new barrier polymer coatings and textiles with superior protective properties.

This project has culminated in the successful construction and implementation of a state-of-the-art ultrafast nonlinear optical spectrometer capable of examining the vibrational and electronic signatures of surface molecular species and moieties.  Research under this project has most notably included the first measurement of chemical and biological weapon simulant molecules monitored at a buried liquid/liquid phase boundary as well as measurements of the effects of environmental variables on the surface structure of polymer materials of interest to the Department of Defense.

 

Reactive Materials

Self-decontaminating materials are an attractive alternative to existing barrier materials for providing next generation chemical and biological weapons protection capability for the Department of Defense.  The adoption of novel self-decontaminating materials could lead to significant improvements over present day barrier materials by reducing or eliminating the need for washing and decontamination while simultaneously enhancing protection by decreasing the risk of spreading the threat agent following chemical and biological weapons exposure.  The failure of current reactive materials to meet Department of Defense's stringent requirements is partially due to the lack of a fundamental and comprehensive understanding of the physical and chemical interactions between these materials and the surrounding environment and/or threat agent.  Because these interactions occur primarily at the material/environment (solid/vapor) interface, it is critical to form a more comprehensive molecular-level understanding of the relevant surface interactions in order to better define the structure/function and structure/activity relationships of these materials.

The objective of this program is to investigate and characterize molecular-level details of self-decontaminating material surfaces interacting with environmental constituents (e.g., water vapor and chemical and biological weapons simulants).  By gaining a better understanding of the relevant interactions and reaction mechanisms occurring at these material surfaces, Boise Technology is working with the Army to enable the rational design of improved self-decontaminating materials.  In an effort to provide the necessary molecular-level surface information, VSFG spectroscopy is used to investigate reactive material coatings under a variety of environmental conditions.  Coupled with measurements of the macroscopic surface properties and reactivity, this unique surface characterization helps to provide insight into structure-function/structure-activity relationships that will facilitate the systematic design of new self-decontaminating materials possessing superior personnel and equipment protection properties.

This project has culminated in the successful construction and implementation of our second state-of-the-art ultrafast nonlinear optical spectrometer capable of examining the vibrational signatures of surface molecular species spanning nearly the entire spectral region covered by a typical FTIR spectrometer.  Research through this program has most notably included the first measurement of the effects of environmental variables on the surface structure of reactive functionalities at the surface of self-decontaminating polymers.

 

Microwave Preparation Materials

Microwave assisted preparation of materials has become of great interest both technologically and scientifically since the first microwave-assisted synthesis was pioneered in 1986.  Although the use of microwave-assisted preparation of materials has increased significantly in recent years, in part due to the dramatic acceleration of reaction kinetics and improved yields observed using this method, its appropriate application and material response is poorly understood.  One area of interest even less understood than the bulk material's response to microwave treatments is how it affects the physical and chemical properties of the material's surface.  In order to realize the full potential of microwave-assisted materials preparation techniques for enhancing/manipulating material surface and interfacial properties, it is vital to understand their effects on the molecular-level properties (i.e. surface structure, functionality and interactions) that govern their macroscopic behavior.

The objective of this effort is to investigate and characterize the effects of microwave-assisted preparation of various polymeric and mineral materials using VSFG spectroscopy.  This effort is intended to develop a molecular-level understanding of the effects of microwave-assisted preparation methods on the surface structure, functionality and interactions of polymeric and mineral materials.  Understanding gleaned from this effort is being contrasted with previously investigated materials prepared using traditional convection heating (annealing/sintering) to better comprehend the benefits and/or problems of employing microwave-assisted methods on materials of interest to the Department of Defense.

 

 

 
Laser Instrumentation

Boise Technology's Laser Facility houses two ultrafast amplified Ti:sapphire laser systems.

The first laser system is a Spectra-Physics based laser that is equipped with a tunable UV/VIS/IR optical parametric amplifier (OPA) (Light Conversion, TOPAS-C).  The Topas is a fully automated tunable OPA.  The OPA generates continuously tunable pulses from ~290 nm to ~2.9 µm with pulse energies ranging from 10 µJ per pulse up to 200µJ per pulse.  A noncollinear difference frequency generator (NDFG) unit is used to produce mid-IR laser pulses in the 2.5-10 µm region with a spectral bandwidth of over 150 cm-1 FWHM.  This laser system is used as the excitation source for various experimental studies. Most notably the laser system is configured as a light source for a broadband vibrational sum frequency generation (VSFG) spectrometer capable of collecting broadband (over ~150 cm-1 bandwidth) surface IR spectra of molecular species with every incident pulse pair.  However we have combined multiple wavelength regions to produce contiguous spectra spanning over 800 cm-1. We employ a 1/3 meter imaging spectrograph and a high sensitivity deep-depleted back-illuminated CCD detector for signal collection and discrimination.

System 1:

 

The second laser system is a Coherent Inc. based laser that is similar to that described above, although this system has been developed to include the latest innovations in laser technology.  These include a high power (>3.8 mJ) one-box Ti:sapphire pump laser for pointing and noise stability, a one-box OPA with DFG capabilities that expands our tuning range out to 20 µm, and various individual innovations that effectively extend its capabilities. This laser system is primarily used as a light source for a second VSFG spectrometer.  Due to the incorporation of various commercial and in-house innovations, this VSFG spectrometer exceeds the performance of VSFG spectrometers currently being used for research throughout the nation.

System 2:

 
Facilities

Boise Technology, Inc. is a small, innovative scientific research and development company with facilities located in Nampa, ID.  BTI has a dedicated laser laboratory housing two ultrafast laser spectrometers for conducting surface investigations and a materials laboratory for sample preparation and wet chemistry.

The laser facilities include a fully equipped laser and optics laboratory with an extensive inventory of optics, lasers, nonlinear crystals, and optomechanical mounts and stages for various applications. It also contains the very latest laser diagnostic equipment including infrared viewers, energy and power meters, a beam profiler, high speed oscilloscopes and fiber optic spectrometers. Signal detection capabilities for various studies includes lock-in amplifiers, PMTs, CCDs, and MCT detectors. Much of the instrumentation is automated with LabView control software, developed in-house.

Sample preparation and characterization can be carried out in a separate wet chemistry and materials research laboratory for preparing environmentally sensitive samples for spectroscopic analysis. The laboratory includes standard glassware, balances, fume hood, and UV/Vis and fluorescence spectrometers. For surface characterization applications, the laboratory houses a surface tension Wilhelmy balance, UV ozone generator for surface cleaning, contact angle goniometer, spincaster for preparing thin film samples, and an ultrapure water filtration system.

 
 
 
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