Dr. Douglas L. Irving, assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at North Carolina State University, has received a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award, known as the NSF CAREER Award, is one of the highest honors given by NSF to young faculty in science and engineering.
NSF will provide $450,000 over five years to Irving’s research project, “Controlling Surface and Interface Relaxation Mechanisms through the Chemical Environment: A Route to 2D Conductors Between Dissimilar Materials.” The project is supported by NSF’s Condensed Matter and Materials Theory Program in the Division of Materials Research.
The project aims to accelerate the creation of next-generation interfacial electronics by use of predictive computer simulation. These electronics are unique because their functionally active region is compressed down to layers of atoms. Their production, however, has been limited to materials that have similar atomic crystal structure, which, in part, has prevented their widespread use and integration.
Irving’s simulations will predict the properties of interfaces between dissimilar materials. The work will also predict conditions – such as temperature, pressure and gas composition – required to make materials and interfaces nearly “perfect” at the atomic level. Results from this project should boost the number of available material combinations used to create new devices and accelerate the development of ultra-fast transistors, very high-density memory chips, and magnetic sensors.
The project also includes an educational outreach program that will develop visual and active demonstration modules that target students in local high schools and colleges, as well as the general public.
Irving received his BS in physics from Furman University in 1997 and his MS and PhD in materials science and engineering from the University of Florida in 2002 and 2004, respectively.