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Chemical engineer earns National Science Foundation CAREER award for work with graphene quantum dots

MANHATTAN, KAN. Research with small particles has led to a big-time award for a Kansas State University researcher.

Vikas Berry, assistant professor of chemical engineering, has received a National Science Foundation CAREER award for his work involving graphene, which could lead to improved electronics and optoelectronics.

Berry will use the five-year, $400,000 CAREER award to study a new process to produce graphene quantum dots, which are ultrasmall sheets of carbon atoms. By controlling their size and shape, Berry and his research team can control graphene's properties over a wide range to develop better switches for computers, to manipulate graphene-devices and to engineer novel particulate systems.

"This research will help us produce large quantities of graphene quantum dots of controlled shape and size, and establish their electrical and optical properties," Berry said.

The National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development Program is one of the foundation's most prestigious awards for supporting early career faculty who effectively integrate research and education within the context of their institution's mission.

Since he arrived at K-State in 2006, Berry has been researching graphene, a recently discovered form of carbon that is only one-atom thick. The two scientists who discovered graphene received the 2010 Nobel Prize for physics because of the new material's remarkable properties. Graphene is the strongest known material, has the highest charge carrier mobility and is highly impermeable, among other properties.

While other researchers have been able to make quantum dots, Berry's research team is the first to make quantum dots with a controlled structure in large quantities, which may allow these optically active quantum dots to be used in solar-cell applications.

"Quantum dots will have a lot of applications once they are developed," Berry said. "This field will evolve, because currently we don't even know what this new material has in store as it has never been produced. This research will open new doors."

Berry is the second CAREER award recipient from K-State's department of chemical engineering. Research recognitions like the CAREER award are part of K-State's goal to becoming a top 50 public research university by 2025.

"The CAREER award is a marvelous recognition of Dr. Berry's great work," said James Edgar, head of the department of chemical engineering. "He's an outstanding researcher and teacher, and he's going to have an outstanding career."

Berry earned his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Dehli, India, in 1999. He received his master's degree in chemical and petroleum engineering from the University of Kansas in 2003, followed by his doctorate in chemical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2006.


Contact: Vikas Berry
Kansas State University

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