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Engineering Student Receives Top Award at Electrochemical Society Conference

By Brendan O'Hallarn

An Old Dominion University doctoral electrical engineering student received the Best Student Award at the Electrochemical Society (ECS) Fall Meeting in Phoenix. David Nminibapiel was recognized for his work on a groundbreaking metal organic framework thin films project by researchers based at the Applied Research Center (ARC) in Newport News.

Nminibapiel was selected from 1,000 students at the ECS meeting for his presentation, "Analysis of Resistive Switching Characteristics in Surface Anchored Metal Organic Framework (SURMOF) Films." He received the award from the Nonvolatile Memory Symposium at the ECS.

SURMOFs are thin films that exhibit chemical and physical properties which can be altered and modulated relatively simply to achieve specific benefits with their potential application in future technologies.

Nminibapiel's adviser Helmut Baumgart, Virginia Microelectronics Consortium Endowed Chair with Old Dominion's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said the work comprises part of a scholarly article that appeared on the December 2015 cover page of prestigious ChemNanoMat, the journal of chemistry of nanomaterials for energy, biology and more.

The study was led by Old Dominion researchers Baumgart, Nminibapiel and Pragya Shrestha, as well as contributors from Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. The electrical analysis was conducted by ODU researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

The study involved a detailed characterization of what is known as resistive switching in crystalline SURMOF films. Resistive switching refers to the physical phenomena where a material suddenly changes its resistance pattern under the action of a strong electric field or current.

When combined with the ability to deposit precise thicknesses of the metal organic framework, or HKUST-1 films, characterization of resistive switching opens up the possibility to use these SURMOF films as solid state devices for potential resistive random-access computer memory, or RRAM.

Baumgart, a Fulbright Scholar, received a Ph.D. in semiconductor physics from the University of Stuttgart for this graduate thesis research conducted at the Max Planck Institute of Solid State Research. He held numerous research and development positions in the microelectronics industry before coming to ODU's Applied Research Center, located on the campus of the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News.

Old Dominion University's Applied Research Center consists of an interdisciplinary team of researchers working on scientific and technological problems in the areas of thin films, laser and plasma applications, materials technology, photovoltaics, thermoelectrics and the emerging fields of nanotechnology, biomedical engineering and sensor science and technology.

Projects at the center are sponsored by federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and various industries and national labs. For more information, see the ARC website.

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