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_Material Recognition

Materials engineers receive young investigator recognition from Army Research office

_James Rondinelli

Rondinelli is the principal investigator for Drexel’s Materials Theory and Design Group and an assistant professor of materials science and engineering.

Drexel engineers Steven May and James Rondinelli have earned recognition from the Army Research Office’s Physics Division for promising research achievements completed within the first five years of earning their doctoral degrees. They have each received a three-year Young Investigator Program award to enable new research projects in materials science and engineering.

May received $357,000 for his work exploring the specific role played by crystal symmetry in the determination of the electronic, optical and magnetic properties of complex oxides. Since it focuses on the fundamental relationship between atomic structure and macroscopic properties, this project may lead to the creation of new materials for the next generation of electronic devices and batteries or energy conversion applications.

“I am thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to pursue this research project,” May says. “The funding will allow us to pursue fundamental studies focused on how to realize improved material properties by engineering materials at the atomic scale.”

Rondinelli was awarded $360,000 for his project, which aims to identify routes to combine the disparate properties of high electrical conductivity and optical activity into a single complex oxide material. “The real hope is that robust materials design and engineering guidelines will emerge to efficiently unite these technologically important properties,” Rondinelli says.
Rondinelli’s studies use theoretical tools that can find the distribution of electrons, predicting the behavior of yet-to-be synthesized materials. This knowledge will help his group synthesize a material that very efficiently carries electric currents.

His research will focus on predicting the material compositions that will achieve the targeted properties by evaluating the physics behind the basic building blocks that make up the oxides’ atomic structure. It is anticipated that new strategies will be developed that will guide the arrangement of basic building blocks at the atomic level into layered, artificial complex oxide structures or superlattices.

The materials studied through this research could have implications for medical and security applications where optical activity is used.
“The financial support from ARO will provide us extensive opportunities to pioneer this emerging class of materials for next generation optoelectronic devices,” Rondinelli says.