The vision for this partnership in nanomaterials between the Pennsylvania State University MRSEC and NCCU is to leverage the assets of both partners to enable significant increases in minority participation in material science and at the same time produce research and educational outcomes that have a significant impact beyond the time limits of this funding.
The educational vision for the partnership is a robust increase in the participation of minority students in material science and related disciplines made possible by (a) enhanced recruiting strategies that seek to increase the appeal of careers in material science to high school students and freshmen; (b) peer mentoring and intrusive advising; (c) engaging these students in quality research projects; and (d) providing them the educational skills necessary to enhance their competitiveness and continued success in future materials related careers.
To achieve such an outcome, the researchers plan to build on the documented successes of the PSU MRSEC in community outreach and enhancing the diversity of their student research community. The vision is not merely to provide opportunities for NCCU students but to improve the quality and outcomes through (a) recruitment strategies targeted at the best and brightest high school students in area high schools that seek to highlight the central role of material science in the 21st century, (b) an innovative peer mentoring program called “PENNPAL,” which will pair minority participants in the MRSEC program with NCCU student participants in PREM, and (c) productive research experiences at the frontiers of material science supported by close mentoring by both NCCU and MRSEC faculty and researchers at all levels.
The three research thrusts at the core of this proposal are (a) optoelectronics, (b) plasmonics, and (c) carbon electronics/spintronics, complemented by a seed project on ferroics. The underlying framework for a productive research experience outlined above is the broad and deep links between these individual research thrusts identified above and ongoing projects in the PSU MRSEC — both established IRGs and seed projects.
These links will leverage the expertise and resources in the PSU MRSEC to generate sustainable research programs at NCCU in these four areas at the end of five years. On an immediate level, the goal in each area is to produce transformative scientific breakthroughs. In the area of optoelectronics, this entails uncovering new phenomena in coupled semiconductor systems. In project 3, a significant achievement would be reproducible graphene band gaps and controllable magnetic functionality to graphene with the vision of creating a new generation of carbon-based electronic and spintronic devices. The overall vision of this proposal is to establish NCCU as a premier institution in material science with the accompanying infrastructure and human capital necessary for such a transformation.