MSE Briefs

Announcements and updates by the faculty and students of the UVA Department of Materials Science and Engineering

    Acta Student Award

    August 10, 2023

    Congratulations to Du Cheng (first graduated PhD student from the CTK group) for winning the Acta Student Award for her primary contribution to the manuscript, “Atomic structures of ordered monolayer GP zones in Mg-Zn-X (X= Ca, Nd) systems”. The Acta Student Award is one of the highest honors for a graduated PhD studying materials/metallurgy. Job well done, Du!

    GRC 2023

    July 15, 2023

    Chu-Liang and Prof. Zhou attended and had great fun at the Gordon Research Conference - Physical Metallurgy 2023. Prof. Zhou gave an invited talk titled "A Computational Thermodynamics Framework with Intrinsic Chemical Short-Range Order", which generated a lot of buzz from the audience.

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    CALPHAD 2023 Conference

    June 30, 2023

    Rahim, Chu-Liang, and Prof. Zhou had a blast in the CALPHAD 2023 meeting at MIT. Chu-Liang won the FactSage Best Student Poster Award with his poster titled "A Cluster-Based Computational Thermodynamics Framework with Intrinsic Chemical Short-Range Order: Applications to Prototype Systems". Job well done!


    NMCF: Member of Gov. Youngkin's VAST Initiative

    April 27, 2023


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    Along with the University of Virginia's IFAB Lab, the Nanoscale Materials Charaterization Facility (NMCF) has been earmarked as part of the Virginia Alliance for Semiconductor Technology (VAST), which was signed into law by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin on Monday (21 April 2023). This $3.3M initiative is designed to train a twenty-first century workforce for the Semiconductor and Nanotechnology industries via the development of three targeted certification programs: (1) Chip Fabrication and Nano Characterization, (2) Semiconductor Packaging and Characterization, and (3) Semiconductor Equipment Maintenance and Repair. Approximately 300 students will be solicted for the Training Opportunities each year, with under-represented populations and Veterans specifically targeted; additionally, ~100 internships will be available. 

    The VAST initiative was developed by Virginia Tech Professor Masoud Agah, who recognized the expertise, leadership, and state-of-the-art instrumentation currently available throughout the State of Virginia - but in disparate locations. This project will tie together important resources at the University of Virginia (IFAB & NMCF), with VIrginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University, George Mason University, Norfolk State University and Northern Virginia Community College, which will act as separate nodes for the training program. NMCF, under the leadership of Professor John Scully and the management of Richard White, will provide essential materials characterization instrumentation training opportunites to VAST students and sample analysis to collaborating institutions. 

    More information about VAST and the VAST Alliance can be found on the Governor's website:

    ChemE Undergrad Anna Harris to Present Membrane Manufacturing Research at Society’s Annual Meeting

    March 16, 2023


    Anna Harris, a third-year chemical engineering major, has won an Undergraduate Student Travel Supplement to attend NAMS 2023, the North American Membrane Society’s annual meeting.

    Harris is an undergraduate researcher working with associate professor of chemical engineering Geoff Geise, who also has a courtesy appointment in materials science and engineering. Geise’s research group specializes in the design of polymeric materials for membrane-based liquid separations and energy applications.

    Harris earned the award to present a poster on her research project, “Analysis of Manufacturing Methods of Ion-Exchange Membranes for Desalination,” at the meeting.

    Harris’ research focuses on the characterization of polymer membranes that can be used for water purification through electrodialysis — a process used to remove salt ions from water streams through alternating cation and anion exchange membranes. She is comparing the properties associated with membranes she creates in the lab and those made using an emerging electrospray technology in additive manufacturing by her collaborators at the University of Connecticut.

    “We are hoping to show that the fine-tuning capabilities of electrospray technology allow for more material control, which leads to more efficient ion transport and increased membrane selectivity. This manufacturing method decreases material and energy costs to effectively manufacture more sustainable materials in an effort of green engineering,” said Harris, who is an A. James Clark Scholar.

    MSE Ph.D. Student Wins Prize for Presentation at Electronic Materials and Applications Conference

    February 23, 2023

    Samantha Jaszewski, a materials science and engineering Ph.D. student in associate professor Jon Ihlefeld’s multifunctional thin film research group, has won third place for Best Student Oral Presentation at EMA2023, The American Ceramic Society’s Electronic Materials and Applications conference.

    Jaszewski spoke on her project, “Impact of Processing Parameters on Crystallization and Ferroelectric Behavior of Hafnium Oxide Thin Films,” which ultimately aims to save energy in computing by using a new material, ferroelectric hafnium oxide.

    “This material will enable us to co-locate computing and memory elements in integrated circuits, a more efficient architecture that will result in energy savings,” Jaszewski said. “My research focuses on investigating the factors that stabilize ferroelectric hafnium oxide so that the semiconductor industry can control the material’s behavior and integrate it into devices.”

    Jaszewski has been working with Ihlefeld, an associate professor of materials science and engineering and electrical and computer engineering, since joining his lab in 2018. Her research is funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, a highly competitive program that recognizes the recipient’s potential contributions to science, technology and education, as well as society and future needs of the nation.

    EMA 2023 is an international conference focused on electroceramic materials and their applications in electronic, electrochemical, electromechanical, magnetic, dielectric and optical components, devices and systems. It is jointly programmed by the Electronics Division and Basic Science Division of The American Ceramic Society.

    Peer-Reviewed Article Utilizing NMCF Instrumentation Makes Top-10!

    December 26, 2022


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    Solvothermal synthesis procedures to obtain films of NU-901 and NU-100 with parallel orientation and perpendicular orientation (Verma et al. 2020)

    Out of hundreds of papers, Prince K. Verma, a doctoral student in UVa's Department of Chemical Engineering, had his publication selected as one of the Top-Ten scientific peer-reviewed articles submitted for the Malvern Panalytical Scientific Award 2022. Verma's publication, "Controlling Polymorphism and Orientation of NU-901/NU-1000 Metal-Organic Framework Thin Films," was published in Chemistry of Materials in December 2020 (Chem. Mater. 202, 32, 24, 10556-10565). In this work, Verma's team investigates NU-1000, a zirconium (Zr)-based metal-organics frameswork (MOF), that is a promising candidate for heterogeneous catalysis, gas storage, electrocatalysis, and drug-delivery applications due to its large pore size and mesoporous structure.

    For this research, the team utilized several of the NMCF instruments available to UVa students and researchers, including our Malvern Panalytical Empyrean X-ray Diffractometer for out-of-plane powder X-ray diffraction measurement; the FEI Quanta 650 Field-Emission Secondary Electron Microscope for imaging of the NU-901 & NU-1000 thin films, Au-Pd coated to improve conductivity with the Gatan 682 Precision Etching and Polishing System; and the PHI Versaprobe X-ray Photoelectron Specctrometer for surface concentration analysis.

    NMCF's electron microscopy principal scientist, Helge Heinrich, co-authored this work.

    Congratulations to Prince, Helge, and their co-authors!






    Environmental Science Geochemistry Students Tour NMCF

    November 01, 2022

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    UVa Environmental Science Students in Prof. Steve Macko's Geochemistry Class ( EVGE 7850 ) tour the X-ray Diffraction and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy laboratories, where NMCF Scientists, DIane Dickie and Helge Heinrich, describe instrumentation and methods.

    Last Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, graduate and undgraduate students in Prof. Steve Macko's Geochemistry (EVE 7850) took a short field trip from the Environmental Science department to the NMCF, where our staff (Diane Dickie and Helge Heinrich) demonstrated X-ray instrumentation. Dr. Dickie ran samples of table salt on the Empyrean X-ray Diffractometer (XRD) to determine the mineral composition, while Dr. Heinrich showed the students around the X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometer (XPS). Students learned what information can be learned from each instrument's spectra, as well as the types of samples appropriate for each analytical method.