Boise State Physicist Receives Prestigious NSF Career Award for Materials Modeling Research

Released: 9/10/2013 3:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Boise State University
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Newswise — Pushpa Raghani, an assistant professor of physics at Boise State University, has been awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER award for her exceptional ability to integrate her cutting-edge research into her teaching activities. Raghani will receive $427,000 over five years to support her research program and provide opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to work in her lab.

The NSF CAREER award recognizes junior faculty from across the nation who have exemplified the role of teacher-scholar through outstanding research, excellent education and integration, and who are likely to become academic leaders in their discipline. It is the NSF’s most prestigious award for early career faculty.

Prior to joining Boise State, Raghani worked at Stanford University and IBM Almaden Research Center in California, where she worked alongside pioneers in the field of nanomaterials. Her research involves the use of computational methods to develop new types of materials, with a wide range of applications in electronic and spin devices, energy storage and catalysis.

Raghani’s research involves conducting in silico (computer) simulations to investigate and design materials with desired electronic and magnetic properties.

“Developing techniques to tailor the properties of materials at atomic-scale will enable development of faster, smaller and energy-efficient devices,” Raghani said. “Continual miniaturization in electronic devices has enabled many modern technological advances, such as smartphones and tablet PCs. The miniaturization of devices, however, has reached a point where further reduction in size requires intensive research into understanding mechanisms that control magnetism at nano-scale, where complex laws of quantum mechanics come into play.

“The demand for new materials is higher than ever, and developing new computational methods for in silico design of smart materials is going to play a critical role in the advancement of new technologies such as renewable energy, information technology, etc.”

“After spending considerable time in Dr. Raghani’s lab, I have discovered that just about everything I learned in physics, chemistry and math classes is applicable to designing new materials with desired properties,” said Bradley Lindroth, a physics major working in Raghani’s lab. “With computational physics, one can always push the boundaries of science and technology and find previously unknown materials and phenomena.”

Past Boise State recipients of the NSF CAREER Award include Alex Punnoose, physics; Janet Callahan, materials science and engineering; Elisa Barney Smith, electrical and computer engineering; Megan Frary, materials science and engineering; Wan Kuang, electrical and computer engineering; Inanc Senocak, mechanical and biomedical engineering; and Jeffrey Johnson, geosciences.


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