Graduate students Everett Grimley and Houston Dycus in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at North Carolina State University have been named recipients of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). The NSF GRFP possesses a noteworthy reputation for developing innovators and leaders in the science and engineering fields, with the program’s past Fellows including co-founder of Google Sergey Brin, former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, over 30 Nobel Prize winners, and more than 440 members in the National Academy of Sciences. For the 2014 application year, this highly competitive program only offered 2000 awards to a pool of over 14000 applicants.
Over the past two years in the LeBeau research group, Houston has developed many skills in scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), which enabled him to study materials at the atomic scale. His current research involves exploring atomic scale chemistry and structure information on bismuth telluride alloys and silicon nitride nanocomposites and will focus on developing quantitative atomic resolution EDS in STEM. To accomplish this, Houston will utilize state-of-the-art equipment at NCSU and collaborate with scientists in Australia for computational support on his experiments. Ultimately, Houston hopes the results of his work will lead to a new level of characterization on the atomic scale which can be expanded to research structure-property relationships.
Everett aims to utilize STEM to develop understanding of the atomic origins of unique properties in functional oxide materials such as ferroelectrics and piezoelectrics. Furthermore, he plans to investigate nitride-oxide interfaces that have the potential to exhibit unique and useful material phenomena. He expects his work will further the development of STEM analytical techniques and methodologies which should be broadly applicable to microscopists and material scientists, and he aims for his characterization of oxides to assist in enabling the application of oxides to next-generation electronic devices.