While the supercomputer beckons to other faculty at NC State, it
is ORNLs powerful microcopes that appeal to Dr. Gerd Duscher,
an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at NC
Duscher was the first to sign up for a joint faculty appointment
with ORNL, and now splits his time between teaching and research
in NC States materials science department and ORNLs
Solid State Division. Oak Ridge has two of the three highest
resolution microscopes in the world, says Duscher. We
can look directly at interfaces between atoms.
Employing a technique called z-contrast imaging, Duscher
and graduate student Sergei Lopatin are using ORNLs scanning
tunneling electron microscope (STEM) and electron energy loss spectroscopy
(EELS) to look at the atomic interfaces between materials. The research
centers on determining how two different materials order themselves
and bond when they come together. The goal is to maximize conductivity,
generating the least heat and greatest speed.
Duscher was the first to use the STEM-EELS combination to simulate
and interpret chemical bonding. He hopes to eliminate experimental
trial and error by understanding the principles behind bonding and
electronic states at these interfaces. With this understanding,
scientists could develop new materials and understand old ones better,
with the ultimate benefit of making semiconductors faster, cheaper
and with higher power.
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