The Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program supports the research and teaching careers of talented young faculty in the chemical sciences.
Sankaran is one of 14 chemists and chemical engineers nationwide to receive the award and an accompanying $75,000 research grant.
He plans to use the money to continue the support of undergraduate research in his lab the next five years. Students will take part in projects designed to overcome problems synthesizing and processing materials at the smallest scales.
“My background and training is in plasma processing but one of the current limitations is preparing materials at the nanoscale, down to one nanometer,” Sankaran said.
Instead of using larger scale versions of plasmas – a plasma is defined as an ionized gas – to etch and deposit thin films on surfaces, Sankaran’s lab will develop ways to use microscale plasmas to build nanomaterials from the bottom up – atom by atom.
The platform technology will enable the fabrication of nanoparticles of desired size and composition, single-wall carbon nanotubes of a specific chirality (i.e. atomic structure), and diameter-controlled silicon nanowires.
Ultimately, this research could make integrated circuits smaller and faster and also impact emerging applications in catalysis and photovoltaics.
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