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FAMU Physics professor awarded $350K National Science Foundation grant

Florida A&M University Physics professor Mogus D. Mochena has been awarded a $350,000 National Science Foundation grant for his research on the next generation of electronics, the university announced in a press release.
Florida A&M University Physics professor Mogus D. Mochena has been awarded a $350,000 National Science Foundation grant for his research on the next generation of electronics, the university announced in a press release.(FAMU)
Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 4:58 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Florida A&M University Physics professor Mogus D. Mochena has been awarded a $350,000 National Science Foundation grant for his research on the next generation of electronics, the university announced in a press release.

More specifically, the release says MoChena’s research will examine extremely tiny semiconductor structures known as “nanostructures,” which are expected to function as components of spintronics.

Mochena explained that common, non-magnetic semiconductors, like silicon, can be made magnetic by introducing dilute amounts of magnetic atoms, like iron. Mochena also said the non-magnetic atoms that increase the number of electrons in the semiconductor will be introduced or doped.

This will add another property, known as plasmonics, to the tiny structures because of the collective motion of the electrons, Mochena said.

“As a result, a multifunctional nanostructure is expected that will have various applications -- spintronics, photonics, sensing and detecting cancer agents and many more,” he said.

The title of Mochena’s grant proposal was “EIT: First Principles Defect Engineering of Plasmonic Diluted Magnetic Semiconducting Oxide Nanocrystals.”

FAMU says the grant’s funding will also help a doctoral student and four undergraduate students majoring in applied physics with a focus on computational science.

Mochena says students pursuing careers in the tech industry should major in applied physics and join the FAMU Physics Department’s research team.

“We need students with physics backgrounds to work on challenging, but very interesting, problems,” he said. “For instance, physicists work on complex problems involving biology.”

He went on to say that combined skills from multiple fields are needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

“The current COVID-19 pandemic requires thorough understanding of its protein structure to develop a vaccine against it,” Mochena says. “That requires a fundamental knowledge of physics, biology and computational science.”

Dean of the College of Science and Technology Richard Alo said he is excited to see the NSF grant’s impact on students.

“Dr. Mochena’s grant provides wonderful opportunities to satisfy young people’s curiosity through the study of Physics,” said Alo. “We expect additional dimensions to our outstanding physics program.”

Mochena’s research requires sophisticated, powerful computational output, so it will take place at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas, Austin. TACC is the home of the fifth fastest computer in the world and is funded by the NSF, according to FAMU.

FAMU says Mochena since joining the faculty, he has racked up more than $2 million in research grants.

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