Advanced Analytical Instruments Strengthen Research at NCCU

Posted April 08, 2021, 12:04PM
Abdennaceur Karoui, Ph.D., works with the Center for Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST).

Instruments will allow nanoscale-level measurements for analysis

North Carolina Central University Physics and Materials Science Professor Abdennaceur Karoui, Ph.D., has been awarded $600,000 by the U.S. Defense Department to establish state-of-the-art techniques for measuring materials at the nanoscale level.

The project, funded through the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, calls for acquiring and installing a cluster of instruments integrating 14 techniques to conduct nanoscale measurements needed for faculty and student research. The project will also cover training sessions by the manufacturer on the equipment for students from various STEM disciplines at NCCU.

“Support from other funded projects will allow us to bring students into the research lab and be paid for their work,” Karoui said. “Financial help and this advanced research infrastructure will enable our students to complete their studies and improve their education and skills.”

By opening the lab to students from a variety of disciplines, the department hopes to widen the path for minority and underrepresented students to careers researching nanomaterials and nanoscale metrology.

The specialized instruments measure nano-sized materials, some few billionths of a meter, as well as objects appearing or actions sustained for less than a billionth of a second. Areas of research using these instruments include ultrathin films, biomaterials, quantum dots, nanorods and atomic defects, according to the grant.

The lab will house optical nano-probes that are used in evaluating all types of materials including biomaterials, “a great asset for bio-chemistry research at NCCU and the Ph.D. Integrated Bioengineering program,” Karoui wrote in his proposal.

The instrument lab also will be affiliated with the university Center of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) directed by Branislav Vlahovic, Ph.D., professor of physics.

With this and many other expansions in assets and curriculum, Karoui said, the STEM faculty at NCCU is laying further groundwork to establish NCCU as a Tier 1 research institution, as determined by factors including sponsored research and degrees awarded. The designation brings increased government grants and other opportunities for students, he said.

The award is the result of a merit competition administered by the Army Research Office under policy and guidance of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. The Army Research Office is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory.

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