Three West Virginia University professors from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences have been awarded $1.8 million in funding from the National Research Foundation’s prestigious Faculty Early Career Development or CAREER program.
“The National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program is NSF’s most prestigious award in support of faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research,” said Katie Stores, assistant dean for research at the Eberly College. “The quality, diversity of content and design, and number of successful NSF CAREER awardees within the Eberly College and campus-wide is an accomplishment that the entire WVU community can celebrate. We expect the success of these talented scholars will contribute to further research and education accomplishments — not only among our faculty, but the student community as well."
Cheng Cen, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded $500,438 for her project, “CAREER: Developing Graphene Superlattices In A Massive-Massless Hybrid Electron System.”
Graphene is a material that comes from graphite – the same material used in everyday pencils. In thin sheets, it has incredible conductive properties – with potential applications such as faster computer processors, bendable electronics and huge reductions in energies those devices require.
To get there, graphene must be tamed. Current semiconductor technologies do not work well with graphene, so completely new approaches must be devised. Cheng’s project aims to develop an on-demand technique to better control the properties of the material. Overlapping an artificial periodic electronic structure on top of graphene has been predicted to be an effective approach for such a task.
Edward Flagg, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded $700,000 for his project, “CAREER: Coherent Single-Photons For Quantum Information.”
Quantum computation and communication — an approach to computing that could solve certain difficult problems much faster than modern day supercomputers — offers great potential benefits to processing power and communication security by exploiting the non-intuitive properties of quantum mechanics. Photons will play an active part in future quantum information processing schemes, and semiconductor nanostructures called quantum dots are likely candidates to act as photon sources. Currently, however, photons produced by quantum dots are not suitable because of spectral diffusion: photons emitted at different times have different wavelengths.
The goal of this research project is to identify, model, and establish effective strategies to mitigate the factors responsible for spectral diffusion. The funding also supports the development, evaluation, and dissemination of an optics-related learning module for 4-H youth groups in West Virginia.
Jessica Hoover, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, has been awarded $631,516 for her project, “CAREER: Copper Catalyzed Oxidative Decarboxylative Coupling Reactions for the Functionalization of Arenes.”
Hoover’s research will develop new catalytic reactions for the formation of carbon-carbon (C-C) bonds from carboxylic acids through oxidative decarboxylative coupling reactions. This technology offers improvements over classical coupling methods, including the replacement of expensive, toxic, and wasteful organometallic reagents with inexpensive and readily available carboxylic acid starting materials while generating minimal waste. This award also supports the development of a new summer program designed to bring together chemists, engineers, and artists to work toward the common goal of building a public science-art installation.