Newswise — Research on a novel magnetic semiconductor material that may reduce the energy consumption of computers and other electronic devices has earned a South Dakota State University physics major first place at the annual Sigma Xi national conference.

Simeon Gilbert tested the magnetic and structural properties of a novel magnetic semiconductor material that helps reduce the power needed to store data in the computer memory. The material is an alloy of cobalt, iron, chromium and aluminum in which part of the aluminum was replaced with silicon. The researchers are collaborating with the nano-magnetic group at the Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

For his research, Gilbert won the physics, astronomy and engineering category for his research work and a superior rating on his poster. More than 80 graduate and undergraduate students presented their research at the conference. In addition, he accepted an offer to join the prestigious international science and engineering society.

“Materials for computers need to work at, and somewhat above, room temperature,” Gilbert said. With the aluminum, this material maintained its magnetic properties with temperatures up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, but replacing a fraction of the aluminum with silicon allows the researchers to push that working temperature closer to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Both materials were developed in collaboration with Nebraska researchers.

“This is a huge improvement,” Gilbert said. His research advisers are professor Yung Huh and assistant professor Parashu Kharel. The research was done through SDSU Academic and Scholarly Excellence and Research and Scholarship Support Funds. “When it comes to supercomputers, the power savings are huge,” he added. Researchers at SDSU and UNL will continue working on this promising material.

“I am very pleased with this recognition for my research,” said Gilbert, who will complete his bachelor’s degree this semester and then go on to graduate school.

“Research experience is one of the most valuable skills that undergraduate students can gain early in their careers,” said Kharel. “Once they come to our lab, we help them get to the next step, be that graduate school or working for a company.”

One of the strengths of SDSU’s physics program is its commitment to undergraduate research, Huh pointed out. “Simeon’s dedication to his research at the Physics Materials and Nano-Science Lab has helped him excel on a national level.”

About South Dakota State UniversityFounded in 1881, South Dakota State University is the state’s Morrill Act land-grant institution as well as its largest, most comprehensive school of higher education. SDSU confers degrees from eight different colleges representing more than 175 majors, minors and specializations. The institution also offers 32 master’s degree programs, 15 Ph.D. and two professional programs. The work of the university is carried out on a residential campus in Brookings, at sites in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City, and through Cooperative Extension offices and Agricultural Experiment Station research sites across the state.