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MSE Department Receives $1M NSF/NIRT Grant for Nanofabrications

June 26, 2007

The National Science Foundation has awarded a four-year, $1,000,000 grant to fund an inter-disciplinary, inter-institutional project led by researchers in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at the University of Texas at Arlington. The results of their work will have an enormous potential for the development of new devices within the frame of oxide-based nanotechnology.

The award was made through the NSF’s Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team program, which encourages and supports collaborative research and education in the area of nanoscale science and engineering. The NSF is highly selective in presenting NIRT grants; only 20 were awarded out of 267 submissions this year. This project focuses on two relevant themes: active nanostructures, and nanoscale devices and system architecture.

The project, titled “Composition Graded, Epitaxial Oxide Nanostructures: Fabrication and Properties,” is under the direction of Dr. Stathis Meletis, professor and chair of the Materials Science and Engineering Department at UT Arlington. He is being assisted by Dr. Jiechao Jiang, a Materials Science and Engineering research scientist at UT Arlington; Dr. Chonglin Chen of the Department of Physics at UT San Antonio; Dr. Gemunu H. Gunaratne of the Department of Physics at the University of Houston; and Dr. Amar S. Bhalla of the Materials Research Institute at Pennsylvania State University.

Materials Science researchers at UT Arlington recently fabricated self-organized, 1-dimensional (1-D), ordered arrays of coherent, La1-xSrxMnO3 nanopillars (~25 nm lateral dimension). These self-organized oxide nanostructures were found to exhibit novel magnetic properties. Using this discovery as a base, the team proposes to fabricate nanopillars with a high perpendicular anisotropy, resulting in new materials that have a property that is not currently available and providing an additional degree of freedom in the design of nanodevices.

A unique feature of the project is the involvement of pre-college students as part of a pre-college education research and development. Outreach activities will involve new course and curricula development, summer camps for K-12 students and high school honorary student and teacher education through the Summer Honorary Student Program and Houston Teachers Institute. Opportunities to underrepresented groups are provided by targeting and involving the large Hispanic population in the State of Texas.