Undergrad’s work delves into the extremely small

COS Physics Justin Ramsey Nano Research

Just because something is small – and in the case of Justin Ramsey’s undergraduate research efforts at SIU, VERY small – doesn’t mean it isn’t mighty important.

Working under the supervision of physics Professor Saikat Talapatra, Ramsey and other undergraduate students are making and then testing the electrical characteristics of a couple different nanomaterials.

A nanometer, by the way, is one, one-billionth of a meter in size. Yeah, it’s tiny. You can’t see these things with the naked eye. But the results of the research could have big implications for areas such as electrochemical storage systems like supercapacitors, as well as nano-sized wires made from titanium carbide, a super hard material commonly used to coat drill bits and heat shields but that also shows promise at the nano-scale.

For the two projects he’s been working on, Ramsey, a senior in physics from Chester, received funding and support from SIU’s Research-Enhanced Academic Challenge, or REACH, program, as well as its Research Experience for Undergraduates program. Undergraduates at SIU can begin conducting or participating in real research during their very first semester.

“Being involved in research at SIU has been the highlight of my undergraduate career,” Ramsey said. “Not only have I gained insight into the life of a research scientist, but by getting a hands-on experience in the lab, I’ve learned the skills that I need to pursue a career in materials research.

“The experiences I’ve had over the last year have given me confidence in my ability to succeed, and I have a new appreciation for the research that goes on all over the world,” he said. “Being able to combine your strengths with others and to work towards a common goal is what research really is, and it’s one of the most rewarding experiences of all.”

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