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Three researchers from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering have been selected for the National Science Foundation CAREER Award. This breaks a record for the total amount of CAREER grants received by MSE researchers during one award cycle.

The recipients of this year’s awards are assistant professors YeonWoong Jung, Tengfei Jiang and Mehdi Razavi. They will each receive grants worth $500,000 to conduct research on stretchable electronics, bioabsorbable implants and 3D interconnects. CAREER awards are given to early-career faculty with promising research and the potential to serve as role models for STEM-minded students.

Stretchable Electronics

The materials used to create electronic devices have traditionally been thick, rigid and bulky, resulting in products that can’t stretch or change shape. But 2D layered materials, which are thinner and more elastic, could be the key to a future generation of stretchable electronics.

Jung will use his CAREER award to investigate and develop novel manufacturing methods of 2D layered materials so they can successfully be used to develop a wide array of electronic devices, including soft robotics, robotic skins, wearable communication devices and optical sensors. His work can have a significant impact on the electronics and manufacturing industries, and could lead to the production of unprecedented device technologies, including mechanically reconfigurable electronics.

Mehdi Razavi, Eric Jung, Tengfei Jiang
Tengfei Jiang, Yeonwoong Jung, Mehdi Razavi

Bioabsorbable Implants

Bioabsorbable magnesium implants are used in skeletal repairs and regeneration, but they can corrode quickly, generating harmful hydrogen gas pockets in the process. Because of this, magnesium and its alloys cannot presently be used for weight-bearing implant applications. To overcome this challenge, Razavi will use the CAREER funding to better understand and control the microstructural evolution during the implant manufacturing process, and to improve corrosion resistance by creating finer microstructures.

3D Interconnects

With the CAREER award, Jiang will use the funding to explore the reliability of 3D integrated circuits for microelectronics. She will specifically study copper electric vertical connections, including their structure and deformation. As a result, Jiang will develop predictive models for microstructure evolution as well as a commercially viable route to mitigate the risks in the reliability of these circuits. Her work has applications in autonomous vehicles, mobile connectivity and in the aerospace and defense industries.

Written by Marisa Ramiccio