Physics Launches Scholarship and Research Program on Graphene

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Professor Antonio Castro Neto (Physics/MSE), Director, Graphene Research Centre in Singapore
Professor Antonio Castro Neto (Physics/MSE), Director, Graphene Research Centre in Singapore

The BU Physics Department, in collaboration with the Graphene Research Centre of the National University of Singapore (NUS), will launch a collaborative exchange for theoretical and experimental research on the most promising nanomaterial of our time. The purpose of the program is to support scholarship and research visits to the NUS Graphene Research Centre (GRC) in Singapore by BU students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty who are investigating the properties and applications of the nanomaterial graphene. Reciprocal visits to Boston by NUS students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty would likewise be hosted and facilitated by the BU Physics Department faculty.

Graphene
Graphene has recently burst onto the scene as one of the most interesting and promising materials. Made of a single layer of microscopic carbon atoms that looks like chicken wire, graphene has unique properties which make it fascinating for scientists and commercial developers alike. It is very thin, flexible and transparent, and it promises to have many game-changing technological applications. For example, its successful application to next-generation integrated circuits could make them smaller, cheaper and more energy-efficient. Other applications might include use in sensors and medical imaging devices. Several multinational companies, including IBM and Samsung, are actively conducting research on graphene, and international organizations such as the Nobel Foundation have recently recognized its value with the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for their graphene experiments.

BU and NUS Opportunity
The BU Physics Department is fortunate to have faculty who are engaged in investigations of the experimental and theoretical properties of graphene. Leading faculty members of the BU College of Engineering are also pursuing basic and applied research on graphene. National University of Singapore has made a recent major investment by establishing the Graphene Research Centre in Singapore and has appointed BU Physics Professor Antonio Castro Neto to direct the Centre. All of this creates a very propitious atmosphere for collaborative research and training between BU and NUS, which will fully leverage the scientific expertise and laboratory resources of the two institutions, and will help graduate and postdoctoral students further their careers.

The NUS GRC conducts theoretical and experimental research on graphene-based materials and their application to science and technology. It includes a state-of-the-art nanofabrication facility (800 square meters of class 100 and 1,000 clean room) with e-beam lithography, scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, sputtering and chemical vapor deposition chambers, and other equipment. In addition, laboratories on site accommodate a wide range of other technologies from Raman microscopy to 18 Tesla magnets. Participating faculty in the BU-NUS exchange will have access to these important and very valuable research tools.

Several BU faculty members have already agreed to participate in the BU-NUS program including Rick Averitt, David Campbell, Antonio Castro Neto, Claudio Chamon, Bennett Goldberg, Anatoli Polkovnikov, Claudio Rebbi, Sid Redner, and Anders Sandvik of the BU Physics Department, and Richard Brower, Kamil Ekinci, Harold Park, and Anna Swan of the College of Engineering. David Bishop, formerly Chief Technology Officer of Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs LGS Innovations and now a professor of Physics and Engineering at Boston University, and Head of the Division of Materials Science and Engineering, will also collaborate in the program. Participation in the BU-NUS program will be open to any additional faculty working on graphene.

Beginning in the spring of 2012, visits to Singapore will be hosted and facilitated by the GRC faculty, and reciprocal visits to Boston by NUS students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty will be hosted by the BU Physics Department. The GRC will initially support two to three visits, ranging from one week to a month in duration, from Singaporean participants to BU in the first two years. We expect that the number of visits will steadily increase to 5 to 6 in the years to follow. The GRC will pay the costs of travel, lodging, and per diem for its researchers to come to Boston. BU will provide operational support, laboratory resources, and mentoring to the program.

During the BU-NUS program, participating students from both institutions will typically join one of the graphene research labs and work alongside faculty helping to contribute to a project and learning about the instruments and how to use them. Alternatively, students will be able to join a theoretical research group investigating the properties of graphene using analytical and computational techniques. The postdoctoral students will serve as active researchers on graphene projects and will play a key role as mentors to graduate student learning.