Three graduate students in materials science receive elite NSF fellowships

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Three doctoral students in materials science and engineering, representing six undergraduates in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, are among 21 new National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellowship Program (GRFP) fellows for the 2022-23 academic year . year.

They are Aiden Ross, Eric Furton and Maria Rochow.

Aiden Ross’s research focuses on ferroelectric nanomaterials and explores methods for developing new or improved applications. Ross, who works at the Materials Research Institute, uses theory and computer modeling to investigate how a material’s shape, surface and crystal structure can affect its properties.

According to him, understanding this interaction is crucial to exploiting the unique properties that arise in nanostructures to produce new materials with unique properties. Engineered new materials can play a key role in on-demand targeted drug delivery, high-density dielectric energy storage, piezoelectric nanogenerators, and next-generation solid-state cooling devices.

“The most exciting thing about my research is being able to follow my curiosity,” Ross said. “There are so many strange and fascinating phenomena that can occur, and I’m always interested in finding and testing new explanations. There are essentially unlimited opportunities in computational materials research to follow your curiosity and find innovative solutions to humanity’s current challenges.”

Ross wants to use his research to create new and useful materials by exploring three-dimensional structures such as nanotubes, multilayers and superlattices. He is always keen to encourage greater representation in STEM fields, bringing science beyond academic journals.

Furton investigates the effect of defects, such as pores, on the mechanical behavior of additively manufactured metals. Understanding how defects affect materials is critical to metalworking technologies such as welding, casting and powder metallurgy, he said. He said the advantage of additive manufacturing is that it allows defects to be replicated, which improves our understanding of those defects and the failures that can occur because of them.

“For example, we can put a one-millimeter defect in the very center of a sample and compare it to a two-millimeter defect and see how much weaker the material is because of the defect,” Ferton said. “Then we run the simulations, see how well the simulations agree with the experiments, and those discrepancies help us improve those models.

Furton said he was excited about the research because of its potential for lightweight load-bearing structures. Before that, he said, we will have to understand how defects affect the mechanical properties of the material.

Furton said the GRFP gives him the funding he needs to continue the research he’s passionate about. His goal is to dive deep into research and help advance the field while understanding the science behind the discoveries.

Rohov investigates how ions move through ion-conducting polymer membranes. The technology is used in renewable energy sources such as batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.

According to Rohov, the scholarship gives her more flexibility in deciding the direction of her research. This gives her time to explore the most pressing research questions she wants to answer.

She is excited to be working at the forefront of research as the world transitions to clean fuels. She is also fascinated by how the structural relationships of these materials can be manipulated to improve performance.

“I aspire to equip myself with the knowledge and skills to become a pioneer who will lead the next generation of scientists in finding solutions for a more sustainable, clean energy future, making a significant contribution to the field of membrane science and to humanity more broadly. “, Rokhov said.

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