Fifty-Nine Glimpses into the Future at the Dana Knox Student Research Showcase

Written by: Tracey Regan,
The undergraduate winner of the Dana Knox Student Research Showcase, Ivan Mitveski, a junior majoring in electrical engineering and applied mathematics, receives his medal from Provost Fadi Deek.

Research on new methods to improve the speed of computing by replacing silicon-based semiconductors with germanium took first place among undergraduate projects at the 2017 Dana Knox Student Research Showcase. The winner, junior Ivan Mitveski, will present his work at the annual meeting of the Electrochemical Society in New Orleans later this spring.

“Silicon is currently being replaced by germanium to make transistors – the smallest instrument in the microchips used in devices from computers to mobile phones – extremely fast. These new transistors should also use less power. To reduce electron leakage in them, we are using high-dielectric constant (high-k) materials as electrical insulators. But most germanium devices are still in the research phase as a critical interface between the high-k dielectric layer and germanium remains a challenge,” says Mitveski, who is majoring in electrical engineering and applied mathematics. “In my research, I am studying the measurements of metal-oxide semiconductor capacitors of different areas to evaluate the integrity of the interface.” 

Entitled “A Glimpse into the Future,” the annual event this year featured 59 undergraduate and graduate student research projects exploring such diverse topics as designs to replace the Weston Hall pedestrian bridge on campus, microgravity experiments on materials on the International Space Station and a system for assigning free curbside parking spaces to drivers in cities. Faculty judges selected three projects from both of the student groups for awards.

Prasanna Tati, a sophomore majoring in biology, was the runner-up among undergraduates. She examined the role cadmium plays in an epidemic of kidney disease in Sri Lanka, where farmers use pesticides containing the heavy metal that are now banned in developed countries. The second runner-up was Amy Ng (below), a senior majoring in biology, for her exploration of methods for purifying a protein involved in the regulation of the circadian clock in cyanobacteria.

Runner-up Amy Ng at the Dana Knox research competition

 “Almost every research poster at this year’s showcase described a project completed collaboratively by a group of students – not an individual – under the mentorship of a faculty researcher,” noted Provost Fadi Deek. “What an excellent preparation for the real world.”

The winner among graduate students was Shiqiang Zhuang, a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering, for his work on nitrogen-doped graphene, a potential alternative to costly platinum in electrochemical systems such as fuel cells.

The runner-up was Peter Totaro, a Ph.D. student in chemical engineering who is working to improve our understanding of the mechanisms governing the formation of intermetallic compounds, or alloys. The second runner-up was Rajasekhar Tripuraneni, a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering, for his research on the time-dependent mechanical behavior of polyvinylidene fluoride, a polymer, on the mechanics of composite electrodes.

The showcase is named in honor of Dana Knox, a professor of chemical engineering and a beloved mentor to many NJIT students, who died in 2008 shortly before celebrating his 25th anniversary at the university.