Product Idea

Research Geology

Thank you all


The time has come that there is less than a day left! Unless by some miracle, this project will not get a a 6 month extension. This scientist is busy presenting at a conference (shale petrophysics oh my).. so I wanted to get this final update in!

Thank you all for your kindness and help on this project- specifically those other scientists and parents that want to have more science sets with female minifigs. I want to give a BIG, special thanks to Whatsuptoday for her hard work and dedication (merci beaucoup!) to helping me create the eBooklet to both highlight the LEGO project and include real scientific facts. I want to also thank CaptainKerker for encouraging me to submit my ideas. 20tauri it was a pleasure meeting you because of our sets (and congratulations of reaching the goal for NASA Women today!). Lastly, thank you LEGO for the opportunity. The project really took off in the beginning and it was a lot of work in social media- I learned an incredible amount- so you there submit your project!

I'm very happy to see more science related themes coming out in LEGO. Keep em coming!


So close!


The Research Geology project is so close to 50% support. We couldn't have done it without you!

But we're not done yet! The project needs 400 votes before 8/3/16 for a 6-month extension.

Help us- one geek at a time!

A year!


It's been a year now that Research Geology has been posted to Lego Ideas. How the time flies! Please share with people and make sure you check out the fun updates and changes (below)!

I want to thank the Oregon Quarterly for their lovely piece in their Spring Edition

Keep rocking it!! 

Minifigures in a real SEM!


Happy holidays! We got a little crazy in the lab and bombarded a minifigure with electrons within a FEI SEM.

New renders


High resolution renders with the updated minifigures. I have tried to take a few comments into consideration. However, I'm keeping the chair as it is representative of a true lab! LEGO has the final say if this project gets off the ground!

Big thanks for support to...


In the last two months, Research Geology has been highlighted or mentioned in several blogs and online magazines. I want to thank everyone for their support!

We can change the world, one geek at a time!

Click on the titles for a direct links to the articles.

Earth Magazine: Geomedia: Toys: LEGO® geoscientists break through the brick ceiling

Hexjam: LEGO are releasing incredible new feminist playsets

The Mary Sue: LEGO Adds Even More Female STEM Minifigs, & You Can Vote for Lovelace, Curie, & Others!

Slate: Lego Gets Feminist With Its New Line of Characters

Nerdist: Ocean Explorer Sylvia Earle Joins Roster Of Female Scientist LEGO Minifigs

Guest Blog on Scientific American!


Research Geology got an exciting highlight on a guest blog on Scientific American by another Lego enthusiast @20tauri (twitter). See the article by clicking the picture! I can't wait to get my hands on the new amazing science Lego sets (Space Port and Deep Sea Submersible)!

Check 20tauri's Legal Justice Team! 

eBook and 3k supporters!


Research Geology is pleased to share an educational eBook about the set and fun geology facts to celebrate reaching 3,000 supporters!! Click me!

Big thanks to Whatsuptoday: check out her Lego Ideas projects.

Updated minifigures


After careful consideration, I decided to change the minifigures for several reasons: 1) the blondes were suppose to represent me in both the field and lab; however, I wanted to make the minifigures more relatable. I changed the skin tone to classic yellow and made a brunette female scientist. 2) The clothes have changed slightly as I learned that I had used licensed Star Wars clothing. 

Thank you for your support! The project is currently 28.4% supported! 

Big thanks to the Democrat Herald for their article! 

Have you imagined looking at a hair or a segment of an insect's eye?


Let's take a closer look at electron microscopes...

A scanning electron microscope (SEM) utilizes electrons to generate an image instead of photons (light). When an electron beam interacts with a solid sample, the interaction produces different types of particles and photons; among these are inelastic secondary electrons, elastic backscattered electrons, and characteristic X-rays. Secondary electrons produce a topographic image of the sample, whereas the backscatter electrons can be used to distinguish atomic number differences in the sample. Modern electron microscopes rely on a computer for data processing, image formation and data transfer. Striking a sample with an electron beam is the equivalent to hitting the sample with an electric current; therefore, the sample needs to be conductive and grounded or it would result in the sample charging. Charging affects the ability to obtain good reliable data/information.  If a sample is non-conductive, the sample is coated with a thin layer of metal (~5-10 nm), usually Ag, Au, Pd, or Pt.

There are numerous types of electron microscopes produced by several manufactures such as FEI Company, JEOL, Hitachi, TESCAN, and etc. The various types of electron microscopes are designed to be used in different types of applications. The most common electron microscope is the conventional high vacuum SEM which utilizes a tungsten filament to generate the electron beam. In a high vacuum, only solid samples and samples with low vapor pressure can be used as the liquids will evaporate. Biological samples are required to be freeze dried and coated to enable imaging of the sample and prevent damage. Environmental SEMs allow for the analysis of biological, metastable, and materials with high water content An ESEM is limited by the voltage, magnification, and maximum gas pressure and thus microanalysis. A scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) employs the transmission of the electrons through the sample to generate data; because the electrons need to pass through the sample this places limits on how thick a sample can be (< 1000 Angstroms).  When combined with X-ray microanalysis and electron energy loss spectrometry, STEMs can be used to examine interfacing electrons, chemical bonding, valence and conduction band electronic properties.

In order to take advantage of the electron beam sample interaction, electron microscopes can have various detectors installed on them which are designed to detect specific types of particles or photons generated during sample interaction.  The types and/or properties of the particles and photons can provided detailed information on the properties of the sample. One such common instrument is the energy dispersive spectrometer (EDS) which detects X-rays over specific ranges of energy; the specific X-ray spectra observed provides the investigator with the elements the samples is composed of and the elemental distribution. Another common type of instrument that is installed on electron microscopes is a wavelength dispersive X-ray spectrometer (WDS) which detects  X-rays of specific wavelengths using various diffraction crystals selected specific elements of interest. WDS has higher sensitivity and resolution than EDS and subsequently provides better quantitative analyses. A third common type of system installed on an electron microscope is a cathodoluminescence detector (CL)  which detects the emission of photons (light) in ultra-violet, infrared, and visible spectrum spectral range. This technique is particularly important for geologists studying mineral growth and geochronology (age of rocks and fossils) and to material scientists studying semiconductors. Another system attached to an electron microscope is the electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) detector where electrons are used to  determine microstructural crystallographic orientation (known as Kikuchi lines) in order to  determine texture or preferred orientation of [poly]crystalline phases.

A new generation of microscopes, such as the focused ion beam (FIB)-SEM, have also been developed that use other types of particles such as Ar+ or He+ ions to image and conduct analyses. The ion milling also allows for microscopic 3-D images and examination of fragile materials (like clay).

The image below is a base model of the FEI Inspect F50 in which the Lego SEM is inspired upon. It is a conventional, high vacuum SEM; the image does not include the individual detectors as installed in our laboratory and on the set. Image courtesy of FEI Company; sub-image courtesy of NETL. 

The JEOL IT300LV (below) is a variable pressure SEM which enables high and low vacuum mode for versatility in research applications. It has several ports which allows to add different detectors such as the EDS as featured. Image courtesy of JEOL. 

Sources: Goldstein et al 2003, Scanning Electron Microscopy and X--‐Ray Microanalysis; FEI Company literature; JEOL product literature; the wonderful crew that I work with in the Material's Characterization Division.