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Daniel Gall, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has been awarded a Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Gall will use the projected five-year, $400,000 grant to help craft the next generation of custom nanoscale structures.
Gall will develop a fundamental understanding of how material vapors condense on surfaces and assemble into nanostructures. This knowledge could lead to the construction of some of the world's most specialized nanomaterials, he said.
Gall will focus his research on nitrides, building highly specialized arrays of nanopipes and nanorods. The research will use two distinct techniques for controlling the nanostructure form: glancing angle deposition and low-energy ion-assisted growth. By using nitrides and combining these two approaches to nanostructure formation, Gall envisions creating nanostructures that could have broad applications in high-temperature self-lubricating coatings, high-throughput gas-purification devices, and pressure sensors.
"Dr. Gall's research will advance the state-of-the-art techniques for building nanostructures with unique electro-mechanical, catalytic, and tribological functionalities for use in fuel cells, micro-robots, hydrogen production, and jet engines," said Joe H. Chow, associate dean of engineering for research and graduate programs at Rensselaer.
The CAREER Award is given to faculty members at the beginning of their academic careers and is one of NSF's most competitive awards, placing emphasis on high-quality research and novel education initiatives.
Gall's research will be integrated with an education and community outreach effort to teach students about nanostructures. He will design a hands-on exhibit for the Children's Museum of Science and Technology in North Greenbush, N.Y., to help children ages 5-12 understand atoms and how they can be arranged to create specialized nanostructured materials. The exhibit will include ping-pong-ball-sized "atoms" and an interactive exhibit to get young children interested in nanotechnology. Gall also will work at the university level creating courses and course work focused on nanostructure growth, and he will include undergraduate students in his ongoing research.
Gall earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Basel in 1994, and a doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2000. He joined the Rensselaer faculty in 2002.
About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is the nation’s oldest technological university. The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology, architecture, management, and the humanities and social sciences. Institute programs serve undergraduates, graduate students, and working professionals around the world. Rensselaer faculty are known for pre-eminence in research conducted in a wide range of fields, with particular emphasis in biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology, and the media arts and technology. The Institute is well known for its success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace so that new discoveries and inventions benefit human life, protect the environment, and strengthen economic development.
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