The University of Texas at Dallas

Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science

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NSF Award News

NSF Award Enables New Research Capabilities

August 18, 2016

A multidisciplinary team of faculty from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics have received a $263,000 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to purchase a piece of equipment to aid with research that happens on the quantum scale.

The piece of equipment is called a Rigaku SmartLab high-resolution, ultra-high speed X-ray diffractometer; it is housed in the Natural Science and Engineering Research Laboratory.

"The acquisition of a high resolution and ultra-high speed X-ray diffractometer greatly enhances research of current and potential materials and device researchers at UT Dallas. It also improves the educational opportunities of graduate, undergrad students and post-doctoral researchers," said lead PI on the grant Dr. Christopher Hinkle, associate professor of material science and engineering. "Students now have an opportunity to learn advanced diffraction theory, tool operation, data acquisition techniques and to deepen their data analysis skills."

An undergraduate and graduate diffraction science course will use the new instrument this fall. Training for the tool is also freely available to the UT Dallas and North Texas community. Dr. Jinguo Wang, associate director of Nano Characterization facility can schedule training.

The instrument is generally used to study the structure of materials and their electrical properties: Researchers can now complete structural and crystal quality analysis of organic and inorganic materials. This research has applicationss in the fields of nano-electronics and energy.

"The quantification of thin-film crystal quality and the orientation of grains in polycrystalline samples in reduced dimensions are crucial to understanding the process-structure-property relationships that are central to scientific and engineering research and education at the University," added Hinkle.

Hinkle’s lab is one of many research teams that will rely on the new tool. His lab combines innovative materials growth, interface and chemical bonding analysis, and state-of-the-art devices to significantly enhance the knowledge and performance capabilities of nanoelectronic, optoelectronic, and energy storage applications. His approach utilizes advanced molecular beam epitaxy techniques and highly developed materials characterization to fundamentally understand the growth process, material nanostructure, chemical bonding, and experimentally determined band structure.

Hinkle hopes to use this new instrument to engage underrepresented groups and as an avenue to provide educational lectures to Dallas-area high school students.

“The acquisition of a high resolution and ultra-high speed X-ray diffractometer greatly enhances research of current and potential materials and device researchers at UT Dallas. It also improves the educational opportunities of graduate, undergrad students and post-doctoral researchers,” said lead PI on the grant Dr. Christopher Hinkle, associate professor of material science and engineering. “Students now have an opportunity to learn advanced diffraction theory, tool operation, data acquisition techniques and to deepen their data analysis skills.”


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