Award Number1920097
Funding AgencyNational Science Foundation
Effective Date2019-09-01
Expiration Date2020-08-31
Funding Amount$199,210


Advances in nanotechnology require the ability to characterize devices such as magnetic devices for advanced computing and energy harvesting devices such as solar cells. A versatile physical property measurement system provides this needed capability. The instrument is an assembly of modules that can measure magnetic and thermal properties. Its scope can be expanded by adding electrical and optical property measurement capabilities, increasing its versatility. Hence, it is a potent resource to perform cutting-edge research on a wide range of nanoscale materials and devices. This instrument will be placed at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), a historically black college and university (HBCU). The instrument is an economical and highly functional material characterization resource for UDC to fulfill its mission of providing 21st-century training to a diverse range of students enrolled in bachelors through doctoral programs. The requested instrumentation will help the highly energetic and enthusiastic faculty to establish a center of excellence in nanotechnology. Students will collaborate with national laboratories such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology as well as regional partner institutions. This instrumentation will help UDC to attract and retain a diverse student population by engaging them in highly rewarding research projects. It will also foster inquiry-based student learning in graduate and undergraduate courses in nanotechnology. UDC will also provide experiential learning experiences to the high school teachers and students in the area.

The VersaLab Physical Property Measurement System (VPPMS) will enable cutting edge multidisciplinary research by providing access to three highly useful modules: (i) vibrating sample magnetometer (VSM), (ii) heat capacity measurement, and (iii) ferromagnetic resonance (FMR). These three modules will be utilized for investigating the magnetic and thermal properties over a 50-400K temperature range. The UDC team will investigate molecular spintronics devices and magnetic metamaterials by utilizing the VSM and FMR modules. VSM and FMR modules will be crucial to understanding the role of magnetic molecule induced exchange coupling between two ferromagnetic electrodes. They will also utilize the VPPMS to investigate the anisotropy and damping factor of the ferromagnetic electrodes in order to understand the mechanism of magnetic molecule based spintronics devices and magnetic metamaterials. Additionally, the VPPMS will be used to detect the process induced magnetic phases in the pyrite based solar cell materials and will correlate the magnetic profile of pyrites with the resulting solar cell properties. The VPPMS can also map the thermally activated property changes over the temperature range of 50K to 400K to investigate the science of creating highly efficient solar cells. In other work, the heat capacity module of the VPPMS will enhance understanding of the relation between the nanoemulsion phases and their heat capacity to yield nanoscale materials as a heat exchanger for advanced cooling. Collaborators from Catholic University of America will use this VPPMS to create new knowledge about the temperature dependent dynamic magnetization responses from the novel Heusler alloys. The VPPMS will be used to enhance the understanding of the impact of magnetic properties of nickel film based multilayer thermoelectric devices on the figure of merit. Overall, the research enabled by this instrumentation project has the potential to provide transformative knowledge in the areas of futuristic nanoscale computer devices, novel magnetic metamaterials, and materials for energy harvesting and energy conversion.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.