Robert Klie

    Email Address:
    College: Liberal Arts and Sciences Department: Physics
    Title: Associate Professor
    Office: SES2473 Phone: x6-6064
    Participating in the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Awards program: Yes

    Research Interest:
    Condensed Matter Physics, Transmission Electron Microscopy.

    My research interests focus on the study of complex materials used in alternative energy production. More specifically, I want to understand how the atomic structure of a material, or imperfections within the crystal lattice, influence the material's overall performance.

    To perform this research, I use Transmission Electron Microscopes (TEM) which are located in the Research Resources Center. Currently, we are in the process of acquiring the highest-resolution TEM in the US, which will enable us to look at individual atoms within the larger lattice of many complex materials.

    In particular, I am interested in four different kind of alternative energy materials: 1) solar-cells; 2) thermo-electric materials; 3) heterogeneous catalysts; and 4) superconductors. All of these materials are synthesized by my collaborators and need to be prepared for investigation in a state-of-the-art TEM. This preparation involves cutting using diamond saw, mechanical polishing, dimpling and ion-beam thinning.

    Once the samples are thin enough to be looked at in a TEM, we will try to correlate the material's performance with its atomic structure, and develop model of how to further improve its efficiency.

    Minimum time commitment in hours per week: 6-9

    Qualifications of a Student:
    I am looking for dedicated and smart physics or engineering majors who want to learn about state-of-the-art characterization of materials used in alternative energy applications. You need to be willing to commit to 6 to 9 hours per week of work in return for 2 or 3 credits of PHYS 392 credit.

    To apply, you must have a strong GPA and you must have completed at least PHYS 141 and PHYS 142. You must also be very reliable, and have a steady hand to handle fragile and sensitive materials.

    Brief Summary of what is expected from the student:
    You would join the Nanoscale Physics Group in the Physics Department, and work together with 2 undergraduate and 5 graduate students under my supervision. You will prepare materials for investigation in a transmission electron microscope, and assist the graduate students with the acquisition of data.You will be trained for all these tasks.

    This experience will allow you to understand what research in condensed-matter physics is all about, and help you decide whether you might like to pursue it later in your career. If you like research but decide to pursue a career in industry, it worth pointing out that TEMs are now used in nearly every aspect of the new green-energy economy. As part of this project, you will learn many valuable skills that you can use in your future work in graduate school or industry.

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