By Andrew Boryga
Special to UM News
He Wang, an assistant professor of physics, joined the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences just last August but she is already making big waves.
Late last year, Wang was notified that she won a grant from the prestigious 2017 Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFSOR) Young Investigator Research Program (YIP) to continue investigating the potential application of next-generation LEDs, solar cells, transistors, and lasers.
YIP is a research grant award that is open to scientists and engineers at research institutions across the United States who received a Ph.D. or an equivalent degree in the last five years and who show exceptional ability and promise for conducting research.
The objective of the grant is to foster creative research in science and engineering, enhance career development of talented young researchers, and increase their opportunities to recognize and tackle significant challenges in the fields of science and engineering.
Wang’s winning proposal was titled “Structure-Photophysics-Function Relationship of Perovskite Materials.”
Her research focuses on investigating device physics and photophysics of organic and organic-inorganic hybrid optoelectronic materials. In layman’s terms, optoelectronics is the study and application of electronic devices and systems that source, detect, and control light. An example would be solar cells or LED devices.
Wang said she is excited about the award.
“I have been studying these subjects for some time and I look forward to using the resources of this grant to gain even more insight,” she said.
She tunes the structure of thin films comprised of these materials, uses laser spectroscopy to understand dynamics, and combines her knowledge of physics and engineering to think about the potential application of next-generation LEDs, solar cells, transistors, and lasers.
In her proposal for YIP, she focused on studying a new classification of materials associated with this field: organic-inorganic hybrid perovskite materials. Perovskite is a specific type of crystal structure found in materials that can be used for solar cells and LED technology.
Over the course of the next three years, she will use aspects of physics, chemistry, materials science, and engineering to study the fundamental behavior of these materials and what they could possibly be used for in the future.
This will be a continuation of the research she began when she entered Princeton University as a graduate student in 2008. After receiving her Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Princeton in 2013, she was a postdoctoral fellow in physical chemistry at UC Berkeley for nearly three years before joining the College of Arts and Sciences’ physics department.
There were over 230 proposals for the YIP last year and grants were awarded to just 58 scientists and engineers. In total, these young researchers received $20 million, or $360,000 per winner. The grant is spread out over the course of three years and can be used to support research, hire personnel, and acquire any necessary lab equipment.