Campus: NORTHRIDGE -- June 8, 2006

CSUN Physics Professors Awarded $2 Million National Science Foundation Grant to Explore Future of Nanotechnology

Three faculty members in Cal State Northridge's Department of Physics and Astronomy and a colleague from Princeton University have been awarded a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation that encourages CSUN undergraduates to work alongside Northridge and Princeton professors on cutting-edge research in the area of nanotechnology.

The grant, awarded to Northridge physics professors Nicholas Kioussis, Gang Lu, and Donna Sheng, and Princeton physics professor Emily Carter, will strengthen the research and educational activities of CSUN's multidisciplinary W.M. Keck Computational Materials Theory Center. It also will help establish a formal and long-term collaborative relationship between CSUN faculty and faculty at the Princeton Center for Complex Materials, a national leader in materials research. "This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to get involved in and work on research not only with faculty here at Northridge, but also with faculty at Princeton University," Sheng said. "Hopefully, it will inspire them to continue their studies in materials science in graduate school, maybe even at Princeton. After all, they will have been working with Princeton faculty and the faculty will know their work."

Kioussis said the Keck efforts will focus on fostering multidisciplinary and innovative research in computational materials science; educating and training students in cutting-edge computational materials science; stimulating and developing strong laboratory partnerships between industry and CSUN; and increasing the recruitment, retention and degree attainment of underrepresented students in the field of materials research.

The Keck efforts include outreach, in the form of summer programs, to local high schools students and teachers to get them interested in and enthusiastic about computational materials science, he said.

Kioussis said one of the most exciting aspects of the grant is the opportunity it affords Northridge undergraduate physics students to work with CSUN and Princeton faculty as they conduct research in computational materials science. He said the materials research emphasis will be on the development of physical models, numerical algorithms, and robust stimulation techniques for the study of the mechanical properties of metallic systems, the charge and spin transport in two-dimensional interacting electron systems and the spin transport in magnetic tunneling junctions.

"This is frontier research using computer codes to understand how electrons interact with atoms on a nanoscale level," Kioussis said. He explained that the joint research going on at the Keck center and at Princeton will have direct applications to future nanotechnology.

In addition to doing research with faculty during the school year, six of the CSUN undergrads will be invited to continue their studies at Princeton each summer for nine weeks.

"It will be a wonderful, hands-on experience for the student to do research at one of the nation's leading materials research centers," Kioussis said.

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130, carmen.chandler@csun.edu


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