Taking Advantage of Data

Martin Harmer rethinks the interaction between human researchers and their scientific instruments.

Story by

Emily Collins

Martin Harmer, professor in materials science and engineering, is featured in the American Ceramic Society article, "The microscopist’s dilemma: How to take advantage of an abundance of data."

Transmission electron microscopes generate an enormous amount of data, explains Ceramics.

Harmer leads the Presidential Nano-Human Interfaces (NHI) Initiative to rethink the interaction between human researchers and their scientific instruments.

To understand the challenges and consequences of adopting a remote, computer-aided instrument interaction, researchers in the NHI Initiative turned to cognitive science to learn about skills essential to microscopy, such as spatial reasoning, procedural memory, judgement and decision-making, and new skills acquisition.

In a November 2021 MRS Bulletin opinion paper, the Lehigh group of microscopists and cognitive scientists reported on an experiment to understand how microscopists at different skill levels interact with transmission electron microscopes directly and remotely and how that translates to image quality.

The team measured time spent on three key microscopy tasks: navigating to the sample area of interest, focusing and optimizing the image, and acquiring/saving the image, writes Ceramics.

Read more about the experiment on the Ceramics website.

Professor Harmer pursues research in the science of ceramic powder processing, particularly sintering, and the understanding and control of the relationships between the microstructure and properties of advanced structural and electronic ceramic materials. Recent projects include sintering of nanoparticles on metals (gold) and ceramics.

Story by

Emily Collins