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Cyberinfrastructure Tools Improve Remote Use of Scientific Instruments

Ohios academic and industrial researchers now can share some of the states most valuable and expensive scientific instruments via the Internet, thanks to cyberinfrastructure tools developed by engineers and researchers at the Ohio Supercomputer Center.

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Ohio’s academic and industrial researchers now can share some of the state’s most valuable and expensive scientific instruments via the Internet, thanks to cyberinfrastructure tools developed by engineers and researchers at the Ohio Supercomputer Center.

OSC’s remote instrumentation cyberinfrastructure provides a trio of services: Web portals to provide access to multiple researchers; robust networking to provide fast and efficient transmission of data; and mass storage to allow data archiving and subsequent retrieval.

“Our goal is to foster research and training activities that can drastically shorten the innovation process in fields such as materials modeling and cancer research,” said Prasad Calyam, Ph.D. a senior systems developer at OSC.

By creating Web portals that integrate with OSC’s Remote Instrumentation Collaboration Environment (RICE) software, the Center can support multi-user session presence, user control management, live video feeds between Ohio labs, and collaboration tools such as Voice over IP and chat.

“The RICE software allows researchers to control the microscope in real time (remote operation) as they examine a sample, or it can restrict remote users to just viewing the sample’s images and communicating with the operator (remote observation),” Calyam said. “Meanwhile, the Web portals link to the software and improve ease of remote access.”

Recently, Miami University Professor Michael Kennedy, Ph.D., has partnered with OSC to “cyber-enable” the university’s powerful 850-megahertz nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer, the first of its kind in North America.

Remote instrumentation sessions require significant network bandwidth. Fortunately, network issues at Ohio’s universities are relatively minor because of their connections to OSCnet, the nation’s leading statewide, fiber-optic network dedicated to education, research, and economic competitiveness.

Source: Ohio Supercomputer Center