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UD's Bobev receives NSF Early Career Award for research on novel compounds of rare Earth metals

Svilen Bobev, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has received the National Science Foundation's prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award.

The highly competitive funding award, designed to support the integrated research and educational activities of faculty early in their careers, is bestowed on those scientists and engineers deemed most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. Fewer than 20 percent of the proposals submitted to the annual competition are funded.

Bobev will receive $530,000 over the next five years for his research and education project focusing on the synthesis, structural characterization and measurement of the properties of novel compounds formed from the rare earth metals and selected semi-metallic elements, including silicon, germanium and tin.

The rare earth metals are relatively less known than other elements and include the Lanthanide series, found near the bottom of the periodic table. They aren't as rare as once thought. In fact, they are commonly used in industrial catalysts and high-performance magnets in switches and motors.

However, what scientists don't know enough about yet, in Bobev's estimation, are the fundamental characteristics of novel compounds made when the rare earth metals and semi-metallic elements are combined and how the atomic interactions give rise to specific properties.

For Bobev, it's all about getting down to the basics.

Magnetism and electromagnetism have a hand somewhere in making practically every electronic device work. As a result, magnetic materials have implications that stretch far beyond magnetism and into superconductivity, and have become a matter of great economic importance. Still surprisingly little is known about the basic principles which make magnetic and superconducting materials behave as such, he notes.

The recent discovery in a single family of gadolinium alloys of giant magneto

Contact: Tracey Bryant
University of Delaware

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