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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

‘Better and fairer future’: program advances diversity and materials science

In June, Jacob Som published a paper investigating the effectiveness of nickel oxide as an electrocatalyst for producing hydrogen as an energy carrier. He hopes this research will help generate sustainable energy solutions for the United States and his native Ghana.

“Although this technology is already available, it is costly because the commercial electrocatalysts used are expensive, like platinum.” A National Science Foundation-supported collaboration with Cornell. “Our research is trying to develop cheaper materials to do the same thing. I hope it paves the way for you.”

Over the past year, students and faculty at Cornell University and NC A&T have been building around two common goals: increasing diversity in the field of materials science and transforming the way the world generates and stores energy. I have collaborated on a research project.

Collaborative Research and Education in Energy Materials (CREEM) is jointly led by Dhananjay Kumar, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at NC A&T and Principal Investigator of the Project, and Frank Wise (MS ’86, Ph.D.). increase. ’88 Samuel B. Eckert Professor of Engineering and Director of the Cornell Center for Materials Research. This project is funded by the Partnership for Research Education and Materials Seed Grant from NSF.

“Working with NC A&T undergraduates, graduates and faculty is aimed at building productive relationships and spurring the systemic and institutional changes needed for a better and more equitable future. We are,” said Wise. “We will learn a lot from each other, which will obviously lead to better science and increase the diversity of materials research.”

NC A&T has a long tradition of supporting students of color, graduating more African American engineers than any other college or university in the United States. Kumar and his colleagues in the engineering department at NC A&T have fostered an active research program to explore low-dimensional materials with transformative potential in alternative energy production and storage.

Cornell is a dense hub of materials science expertise and energy innovation. CCMR is one of 19 NSF-funded materials research, science and engineering centers in the country dedicated to the development and development of innovative materials with finely tuned properties, such as CREEM’s focus on titanium oxynitride thin films. It houses some of the most powerful tools available for testing. Effort.

In October, three PhD students from Kumar’s lab visited Cornell to learn about the functionality of the CCMR facility and meet with Cornell faculty and students involved in the research collaboration. Members of Kumar’s lab now send materials made at NC A&T to collaborators at Cornell University, who use CCMR’s facilities to characterize the materials.

Kaushik Sarkar, a PhD student at NC A&T, said: “We have worked with other universities before, but this relationship is different. It feels like a friendship. Cornell is the best partner in the world.”

Schuyler Shi is a Ph.D. student at Cornell University specializing in atomic resolution electron microscopy and is in frequent contact with Sarkar and other graduate students at NC A&T. “This collaboration has taught us how to prepare this nanoarray structural material. [for imaging]’ Shi said, referring to the materials Sarkar has produced to pursue non-precious metal alternatives for energy storage technology. “Members of our group have never worked with samples of this kind.”

NC A&T undergraduate Brooke Smith, working in Kumar’s lab as part of a collaboration, traveled to Cornell this summer. In the lab of Zinsantivic, associate professor of materials science and engineering at Cornell Engineering, Smith developed experiments with ruthenium oxide thin films using CCMR’s sprawling five-foot-tall magnetron and her sputtering deposition system. did.

“Really, Brooke taught me sputtering,” said Austin Reese, a Ph.D. student at Cornell University who mentored Smith over the summer. “She learned all the details as I kept asking her clueless questions. I’m going to figure it out.”

Smith presented her findings at regular meetings with Suntivich and other members of her subgroup. “I started thinking like a researcher,” says Smith. “Jin asked me, ‘Why did you do this?’ claimed. “You have to ask all the questions,” he said. He made me more interested. It was really helpful for him to be able to explain his project better. ”

Sarkar, Som, and third PhD student Manosi Roy are defending their thesis projects and preparing to graduate this fall.

In May 2023, Smith will complete a five-year dual degree in Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering from Spellman College and NC A&T respectively. She is determined to advance her research immersion this year.

“I’d like to see how far we can go with thin films,” she said. “It seems like a very cool field. How can something so small be used for so many different uses? Are there other applications? Could this technology be applied to something in our daily lives that we haven’t thought of?Yes, alternative energy, definitely!But what else? I want to be part of

J. Edward Anthony is a writer in the Office of the Vice President of Research and Innovation.

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