Philip Feng, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, has won a $500,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Award for his five-year project, “Dynamically Tuning 2D Semiconducting Crystals and Heterostructures for Atomically-Thin Signal Processing Devices and Systems.”
Called a CAREER award, it’s the NSF’s most prestigious grant to junior faculty members. Winners are chosen because they exemplify the role of researcher-teacher-scholar through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of the two.
Feng’s CAREER project is focused on understanding the device fundamentals and engineering principles of two-dimensional (2-D) semiconducting crystals and heterostructures made of stacks of various 2-D semiconductors.
The research will help lay a foundation for developing atomically thin signal processing devices and systems with new features that may not be accessible with devices based on conventional 3-D semiconductor crystals. The features include ultralow power consumption, novel radio-frequency signal transduction and sensing schemes, and more.
This research will advance scientific knowledge in 2-D nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS), electronics, optoelectronics, multiphysics analysis and modeling, and 2-D device fabrication.
Recently, Feng’s group pioneered the development of 2-D NEMS, including the first semiconducting 2-D NEMS resonators vibrating in the radio frequency bands. The group did so by building some of the world’s smallest “drumheads” based on various semiconducting atomic layers, and carefully “listening” to their tunes using ultrasensitive optical and electronic methods. Feng’s team has also made some initial studies of new transistors based on these 2-D crystals.
His work has been highlighted in feature articles in IEEE Spectrum, the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Chemistry World, and the American Vacuum Society’s Beneath the AVS Surface.
An essential aspect of the NSF’s mission is providing community service through scientific leadership, education or community outreach. Feng said this project will generate educational materials and inspiration for K-12 to graduate students. He plans outreach programs to broaden participation by underrepresented and disadvantaged groups.
In recent years, Feng initiated collaborations with the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Children’s Museum of Cleveland, developing innovative programs at the crossroads of science and arts, featuring the fascinating nature of nanostructures enabled by 2-D crystals and heterostructures.
This grant will fund a suite of innovative experiments in Feng’s research proposal, in parallel with the creative educational and outreach activities.