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Advanced Materials Processing & Analysis Center | NanoScience Technology Center | Volume 5, Issue 2 • Fall 2012




ALSO IN THIS EDITION: Message from the Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 MOU with Korean Institute . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Gold Nanoclusters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Student News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Faculty Spotlights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5-6 Faculty Kudos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Alumni Spotlight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Staff Spotlight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

MING SU RECEIVES $2 MILLION NIH GRANT WITH NEW INNOVATOR AWARD From UCF Today – The National Institutes of Health awarded University of Central Florida Professor Ming Su its coveted New Innovator award, which comes with a $2 million grant. Su, Associate Professor at UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center, is one of only 82 recipients nationwide and the only researcher from a Florida university to be selected. The award recognizes visionary science that exhibits the potential to transform scientific fields and speed the translation of research into improved health, according to the NIH director’s office. Su’s research focuses on using nanoparticles to concentrate and precisely direct radiation energy to destroy cancerous tumors. Su says nearly half of cancer patients receive radiation therapy at some point during treatment, but X-ray doses can damage normal tissue around the cancer. The idea of using nanoparticles to improve radiation therapy has been studied for the past several years as a way to enhance the potency of the cancer killing radiation, while limiting damage to surrounding healthy cells.

Because of the imprecise nature of radiation it is often used at lower doses than required, Su said. But that can lead to incomplete killing of cancer cells and recurrence of a tumor later. Su will be using nanoparticles in ways they have not been used before – so that radiation energy will be deposited preferentially to tumors. “By doing so, the total X-ray dose required to kill the tumor will be reduced, and the damage to normal tissues will be minimized,” Su said. The award is one of 10 Pioneer awards, 51 New Innovator awards, and 20 Transformative Research awards announced by the NIH in September. The total funding is approximately $155 million. The program funding all the projects, the High Risk Reward program, supports a series of exceptionally highimpact research programs that are broadly relevant to health and disease.

MESSAGE FROM DIRECTOR SUDIPTA SEAL I am very proud today, yet another successful semester with many accomplishments. We welcome two new faculty members, Debashis Chanda (UIUC) and Alexander Balaeff (Duke). Their ground-breaking research strengthens our nanophotonics, metamaterials and biological computational simulation. Congratulations to Dr. Ming Su who received the NIH Director’s Innovator Award in the field of cancer therapy (the only winner in Florida). Playing with Au nanoparticles, you can read the recently published Nano Letters article from Dr. Thomas’s group. Kudos to Dr. Hickman for landing a mega NIH grant with Cornell University, developing new cost-effective, bioengineered devices.

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We also welcome our New York Yankee James Alemen to NSTC and sunny Florida. Congratulations to our new Ph.D. graduates. We wish them all the best in their future careers. Our outreach program is as strong as before, teaching the concept of Q dots to school kids. Alumni spotlight shines on Balaji, a former graduate now working at Mitsubishi. Tinkering with space dust—that’s Patrick, who landed a grant from the Florida Space Institute. Recently, I was part of the Orange County Mayor’s trade mission to Colombia and spoke about UCF’s nano and clean tech research. I welcome you all to the new year and hope you enjoy reading our Nanomaterials news. Congratulations to our faculty, staff and students for their outstanding service to AMPAC and NSTC.

AMPAC/NSTC CONDUCTS RESEARCH WITH KOREAN INSTITUTE The Institute for Research & Industry Cooperation at Puson National University in South Korea, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UCF’s Nanoscience Technology Center and Advanced Materials Processing & Analysis Center. The institutions will conduct cooperative research and information collection and exchange.




Lasers are currently indispensable for many applications in a variety of technological fields. This includes military, telecommunications, manufacturing and medicine. Even though laser is a very powerful source of energy, at times it can be damaging, too. These laser systems are so powerful that in industries high power laser systems are often used for cutting and drilling. For humans, unintended laser irradiations can damage eyes or other body parts. This poses a high health threat to workers who are working with such laser systems. In military applications, lasers are incorporated in many types of weaponry. These lasers can damage sensors or blind military personnel. Therefore, there is a considerable need for a device to protect people from laser threats. To date, laser protection devices used in real applications are non-adaptive devices in which its transmission is constant regardless of incident laser power. They primarily use linear absorption of materials to reduce the transmission. Complete elimination of certain wavelengths (colors) can create serious problems in applications where high visibility is required in the absence of the harmful laser radiation. Optical limiting

devices have been proposed as a potential solution to this problem. Ideally, in such devices, instead of having incident light independent transmission, transmission decreases as the incident power increases. One of the feasible directions in realizing such adaptive devices is to use nonlinear optical materials. Recently, in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, NSTC Assistant Professor Jayan Thomas and his group have developed atomically engineered ultra-small particles with very interesting optical limiting properties. These particles are called gold nanoclusters. Nanoclusters are developed by adding gold atoms in a sequential manner. For example, Au25 cluster has exactly 25 atoms, not one more, not one less. The group studied optical properties of three such clusters belonging to the quantum size regime of metals (< 2nm), viz. Au25, Au38 and Au144. These particles are smaller than typical nanoparticles (3-100nm). The results published in a recent issue of Nano Letters reveal remarkable features of the distinct evolution of the optical nonlinearity as these cluster progress in size from the nonplasmonic regime to the plasmonic regime. Au25, which is the smallest atomic cluster, exhibits the best optical limiting behavior. The transmission of a high intensity laser beam continuously decreases as the incident laser intensity is increased. This is beneficial in optical limiting applications where increase in transmission is undesirable. It is found that they are suitable candidates for optical limiting applications. Moreover, these findings have the potential to shift the focus of future nonlinear optical investigations towards ultra-small quantum clusters from the currently investigated larger nanocrystals.

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TEACHING QUANTUM DOTS TO YOUNG STUDENTS In October, Dr. Swadeshmukul Santra, Josh Bazata, and Megan Berroth spoke to two kindergarten classes about quantum dots. We discussed both their properties and medical applications. We introduced the children to quantum dots by showing a web video featuring cartoon character quantum dots ( To demonstrate that the size of the quantum dot is what determines its color, we wore different color shirts. The largest quantum dots being red (Josh wore a red shirt) and the smallest ones being blue (I wore a blue shirt). The rest of the colors made up the intermediate sizes based on rainbow order, so we had the children line themselves up in order of size, based on the color of the shirts they were wearing.

Next, we moved on to how quantum dots can help us in medicine. If you tag a quantum dot to a cancer cell via an antibody (specific to the cancer cell), you can distinguish between the cancer cells and the normal, healthy cells in the body using quantum dot fluorescence. Each child was given a role— quantum dot, antibody, cancer cell, or normal cell, and we replicated happens in the body.

We also brought quantum dots for the children to see. To illustrate real-life applications, we demonstrated that when quantum dots are excited by ultraviolet light (UV), they fluoresce a certain color. Each child was given a pair of safety goggles and allowed to see the quantum dots before (clear/white solution) and after (glowing the colors of the rainbow).

STUDENT NEWS From Debashis Chanda’s group: Abraham VazquezGuardado received a scholarship from Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT).

NSTC/AMPAC congratulates those students who graduated in Fall 2012 with a Ph.D.:

From James J. Hickman’s group: Vaibhav Thakore, recent Ph.D. graduate and Postdoctoral Associate in Dr. Hickman’s Hybrid Systems Laboratory, was invited to participate in a workshop entitled “Computational Methods for Multiscale Modeling of Materials Defects” held at the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics at the University of California Los Angeles campus in December. He also presented a poster entitled, “Charge Relaxation Dynamics of an Electrolytic Nanocapacitor” at the IPAM workshop.

• Oscar Julian Santiesteban, Chemistry. Major Advisor: Dr. M. Perez

From Saiful Khondaker’s group: Biddu Sarkar and Daeha Jong received a Ph.D. in Physics in December. Biddut is now a postdoctoral fellow at Purdue University. Daeha is continuing his research with Dr. Khondaker. Two other students in Khondaker’s group, Udai and Narae, earned M.S. degrees in Physics.

• Ke Huang, Materials Science and Engineering. Major Advisor: Dr. Y. Sohn

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• Vaibhav Thakore, Physics. Major Advisors: Dr. J. Hickman, Dr. E. Mucciolo

• Daeha Jong, Physics. Major Advisor: Dr. S. Khondakar • Biddut Sarkar, Physics. Major Advisor: Dr. S. Khondakar • Lalit Shokeen, Materials Science and Engineering. Major Advisor: Dr. P. Schelling • David Reid, Materials Science and Engineering. Major Advisor: Dr. S. Seal

• Mainul Hossan, Electrical Engineering. Major Advisor: Dr. M. Su

FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: DEBASHIS CHANDA Debashis Chanda, Ph.D. • Assistant Professor NanoScience Technology Center and College of Optics & Photonics

BIOGRAPHY Dr. Chanda joined UCF in August 2012. He is an Assistant Professor with the NanoScience Technology Center and the College of Optics & Photonics (CREOL) and is also affiliated with Physics and Electrical & Computer Engineering. Previously, he was a post-doctoral research associate with Prof. John A. Rogers at Beckman Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, from 2009-2012. Dr. Chanda’s present work involves advancing fundamental understanding of light-matter interactions in artificially structured metal/dielectric structures (metamaterials, plasmonic nanostructures), transformation optics for display/camouflage, strong coupling between photonic and plasmonic resonances and trapping light in thin film solar cells. Some of these works appeared as cover articles (Nature Nanotechnology, Laser Focus World) while gaining attention in many news outlets including MIT Tech Review, Physics Today, Nanotechweb, and Chanda received his Ph.D. from University of Toronto working with Prof. Peter Herman where he developed a diffractive optics lithography based high throughput laser fabrication technique of large area fabrication of 3-dimensional photonic crystals. The work was recognized in the form of several awards, including a Printed optical metamaterials

prestigious National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) fellowship. Prior to his time at University of Toronto, Chanda worked for ABB and Philips research labs on optical/RF communications and optoelectronics component design projects.


Cavity coupled plasmonics

Research at Dr. Chanda’s Nano-Optics Research Lab focuses on confining coherent/partially coherent or incoherent light at nanoscale to enhance light-matter interactions for novel device applications as well as energy-harvesting purposes. Emphasis is given to design and development of high throughput, large scale and low cost fabrication of optical nanostructures for enhanced light matter interactions in artificially structured metal/dielectric structures (metamaterials, plasmonic nanostructures), transformation optics for display/camouflage, strong coupling between photonic and plasmonic resonances and trapping light in thin film solar cells.

Light trapping in thin-film, flexible solar cells

Recent highlights from Dr. Chanda: • Receives DOE Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) Solar Energy Future Direction Innovation Proposal Award

• Chanda’s paper on “Coherent stitching of light in multilayered diffractive optical elements” is highlighted in Optics Express Journal in October

• Gives an invited talk at Latin America Optics & Photonics (LAOP) workshop in Cancun, Mexico in November.

• In 2013, Chanda will give talks at CREOL’s Industrial Affiliates Symposium and at a UCF workshop on the Advanced Manufacturing Initiative.

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FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: ALEXANDER BALAEFF The group of Alexander Balaeff specializes in molecular modeling and simulations. They are studying how the molecular structure and dynamics affect the mechanical and electronic properties of macromolecules. A special emphasis of the group’s work is on nucleic acids, such as DNA and its synthetic counterparts, and the nucleic acids’ interactions with other macromolecules. Recent results include (i) an independent discovery of zip-DNA, a novel structural form adopted by DNA in a stretched state, and (ii) the discovery that increased molecular fluctuations may increase the electric conductivity of nucleic acids due to the fluctuations’ effect on electrostatic interactions between different parts of the macromolecule. The current research of the group involves (i) studies of DNA origami structures, with the goal of converting the DNA into nanoscale electronic

curcuits, (ii) continued studies of the unusual structural properties of zip-DNA, and (iii) the studies of electric charge transport through nucleic acid monolayers.

PATRICK K. SCHELLING: Development and Application of

Atomistic Simulation Methods to Elucidate Space-Weathering Processes Materials in the harsh environment of space are subject to a variety of processes including ion implantation, sputtering, and collisions with micrometeorites. Collectively known as “space weathering”, these processes leave the surfaces of lunar and asteroidal regolith strongly altered from that of the parent minerals. This has important implications for a variety of physical properties, including the optical and chemical properties at the surface. The first consequence of space weathering is that the optical reflectivity is strongly altered. Because astronomers would like to use the optical reflectivity to identify the minerals present in asteroids, space weathering is an important area of interest. However, there are more fundamental questions related to the evolution and chemical activity of the regolith material. In the one-year project funded by the FSI Space Research Initiative (SRI) led by Patrick Schelling, atomic-simulation methods will be developed used to elucidate various aspects of space weathering. The use of atomic simulation to study radiation damage is quite widespread. However, there have been few studies applied to complex silicate materials present in regolith, including olivine and pyroxene. The basic idea is to study the formation and clustering of point defects. Generally, high-energy incident particles generate Frenkel defects, which in an ionic material results

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in the clustering of cation and anion interstitials. In lunar and asteroidal regolith, however, the material becomes strongly reduced, and clustering results in the growth nanophase elemental iron that strongly reduces the optical reflectivity. The project will explore the mechanisms by which elemental iron particles form in a silicate matrix including theoretical predictions of the optical properties. Over a longer term, other questions will be addressed, including the possibility of production of H2O at cation vacancy sites, as well as the catalytic activity of nanophase iron particles for the production organic molecules. The SRI funding is being used to support Physics Ph.D. student Abrar Quadery.


$9.5 Million NIH Grant

James J. Hickman will receive funding from the National Institutes of Health for a project entitled “Microphysiological Systems and Low Cost Microfluidic Platform with Analytics” to make chips with living cells and tissues that model the structure and function of human organs and help predict drug. Hickman and Dr. Michael Shuler, the James and Marsha McCormick Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University, jointly received one of 17 NIH grants for tissue chip projects. The grant, worth approximately $9.5 million over five years, includes collaborators at RegenMed, GE, Sanford- Burnham and Walter Reed Army Institute. It will support their work in microphysiological systems with functional readouts for drug candidate analysis during preclinical testing. The researchers will develop microphysiological modules

More from Dr. Hickman Congratulations to Dr. Hickman for his appointment to the Bioengineering of Neuroscience, Vision and Low Vision Technologies Study Section at the Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health.

to model the nervous, circulatory and gastrointestinal tract systems. They also plan to build a 10-organ system designed to be low-cost yet highly functional system for use in drug discovery, toxicity and preclinical studies. NIH is supporting bio-engineered devices that will be functionally relevant and will accurately reflect the complexity of a particular tissue, including genomic diversity, disease complexity and pharmacological response. The NIH tissue chip projects will be tested with compounds that are known to be safe or toxic in humans in order to help identify the most reliable drug safety signals and ultimately advancing research to predict the safety of drugs in a faster, more costeffective way. The initiative marks the first interagency collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), launched by the NIH’s recently created National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). For further information, visit stories/Aug12/tissueChip.html. Dr. Hickman organized/chaired the 2nd AIMBE Workshop on “Validation and Qualification of New In Vitro Tools and Models for The Pre-clinical Drug Discovery Process” held in Washington, D.C. in September. He is also organizing the 3rd AIMBE Workshop to be held in D.C. on March 14-15.


Balaji Jayaraj is a materials engineer who specializes in the thermal barrier coatings that protect the components inside high-temperature gas turbines. But it’s his willingness to connect UCF and his company— Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas (MPSA)—that gets people to sing his praises. He often hosts UCF delegations to MPSA. In fact, he has trained several UCF undergraduate engineering students, two of whom later received full-time jobs at MPSA. His

efforts earned him an additional duty—to be the company’s liaison with UCF alumni working there. Jayaraj grew up in Coimbatore, India. He completed his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in India and then came to the U.S. to attend UCF. That’s when he changed his field of study to materials science and engineering. “I wanted to learn more about the detail in materials behavior, rather than bulk properties,” he says. Jayaraj excelled at UCF. In 2003, he won UCF’s prestigious “Most Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award” from the College of Graduate Studies. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering. He is especially proud of his academic accomplishments and credits the support he received from his research mentor, Professor Yongho Sohn. Jayaraj’s supervisors have taken notice of the rising star in their ranks. “Dr. Jayaraj has gained the respect of his colleagues, not only at MPSA but across borders in [the company’s] headquarters in Japan,” his supervisor says. “He is a valuable human asset for our company.”

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STAFF NEWS: JAMES ALEMAN James Aleman is our new Administrative Research Coordinator at NSTC. He and his wife of over 18 years are happily raising their teen-aged daughter and toddler son right here in the East Orlando community. James’ non-workrelated interests include reading, tennis, running, biking, and playing musical instruments. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and also brings over 15 years of experience in research-based administration, finance, and accounting compliance. His first position in academic administration was with the Stanford University

Department of Medicine where he gained experience as Administrator in the Division of Oncology. After relocating to New York City, he held a position as Grant Manager at the Columbia University Department of Anesthesiology. Upon relocating again to Central Florida, he spent a few years in the banking industry prior to joining us. However his employment here at UCF represents a return to the area of his cardinal working interests and expertise. At NSTC, James will be actively helping our researchers with all funding award activities and processes. He will also give special attention to the maintenance of internal controls and compliance.

HOLIDAY PARTY & TOY DRIVE At NSTC/AMPAC’s 2012 holiday party, donations were collected for “Toys for Tots” from faculty, students, staff and guests. Kudos to Kari Stiles and Michelle Shirzad who organized the party and donation. Thanks to NSTC and AMPAC staff for their help.


Phone: (407) 882-1455 | Fax: (407) 882-1462 | NANOSCIENCE TECHNOLOGY CENTER

Phone: (407) 882-1578 | Fax: (407) 882-2819 |


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NanoMaterials Fall 2012