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National Science Foundation honors ASU’s Vogt

February 05, 2008

Nanotechnology research and education at ASU and beyond will be boosted by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Award recently won by Bryan Vogt, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.

It’s one of several prestigious NSF Career Awards received by engineering school faculty members in recent years.

Vogt’s award will provide more than $405,000 over five years to support his research on expanding the capabilities of nanostructures and nanomaterials, and to fund instruction of undergraduates in the subject of the research.

The award also will support an effort to incorporate nanotechnology concepts in the chemistry curriculum at Estrella Mountain Community College in Maricopa County, and provide for tutorials in nanotechnology at a central Phoenix elementary school through ASU’s Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program for K-12 students.

NSF Career Awards acknowledge researchers’ and educators’ accomplishments as well as potential to be international leaders in their fields.

Vogt’s work involves controlling the architecture and behavior of nanostructures and nanomaterials. More specifically, it’s about a new approach to control the orientation and placement of extremely tiny pores on nanostructures.

“The difficulty is simultaneously controlling numerous physical and chemical properties on the nanometer scale to yield materials with the desired macroscopic properties,” Vogt says. “The goal here is to be able to put the right-sized pores in the right place in the right materials to produce improved functional materials.”

The research is aimed at producing materials that could be used in the next generation of computer chips, enabling more rapid computational speed, or producing tiny sensors that could detect extremely small amounts of hazardous chemicals.

The technology might, for instance, allow a sensor that normally would need to be the size of a football field to operate effectively to instead require only a surface small enough to fit in one hand, Vogt says.

Such capabilities would greatly expand the commercial potential of these mesoporous materials for development of new consumer products.

For example, such materials could enable significant improvements in the power density and efficiency of batteries for cell phones and laptop computers.