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October 2001

Release Date: October 10, 2001

NSF Equipment Grant to Fund ASU Lab for Materials, Semiconductor Research

The Physics Department at Angelo State University has received a $118,081 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to acquire equipment for a new optical and electrical characterization facility for undergraduate research.

The grant was awarded by the NSF's Division of Materials Research under the directorate for mathematical and physical sciences, effective this past Sept. 1. Dr. Toni D. Sauncy, assistant professor of physics, is the principal investigator on the project. Physics Department Head Dr. Andrew B. Wallace and Dr. David L. Bixler, assistant professor of physics, are co-investigators on the grant.

Monies from the grant will be used to establish an advanced, modern facility to support essential research training for undergraduate students and professional research activities for faculty collaborators. The material properties facility will utilize high-tech equipment to investigate the fundamental electrical and optical properties of superconductor and semiconductor materials in differing physical conditions.

Sauncy said, "The instrumentation will establish a new realm of possibilities for advanced research here at Angelo State, offering undergraduate students appropriately challenging, exciting and educational research training while conducting relevant and interesting scientific investigations."

Equipment being purchased will include a grating spectrometer for optical spectroscopy experiments; a closed cycle helium refrigerator for the study of material properties at precisely controlled temperatures as low minus 440 degrees Fahrenheit; and a large water cooled floor magnet for the study of superconducting materials under the influence of large magnetic fields up to about 10,000 times the magnetic field of earth.

The new equipment and facility will open up possibilities to fabricate superconductor and semiconductor materials at ASU as well as provide opportunities for collaborations with materials scientists at Texas Tech University and Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa. Sauncy said experimental techniques made possible through the grant will include visible and near-infrared optical spectroscopy and current-voltage characterization, all of which will be done under variations in temperature and pressure as well as in electric and magnetic fields.

The proposal was funded from among 258 submitted to the NSF's Division of Materials Research.