This is a project that began ten years ago with NSF funding for the preparation of conducting polymer nanofibers, for device fabrication based on these nanofibers, and for motivating undergraduate students to pursue graduate degrees in science and engineering (See Past NSF Support link below). In this renewal proposal, we propose to use an inexpensive and simple technique called electrospinning to prepare nanofibers of conducting/semiconducting/ferroelectric polymers and metal oxides, and plan to use them as the active material in the fabrication of devices and sensors. Due to their small dimensions, nanofibers have a large surface to volume ratio and hence they have the potential to be used in the fabrication of low power consumption devices and supersensitive and rapid response sensors. Individual nanofibers that possess both semiconducting and ferroelectric properties are inherently multifunctional and will be used in non-volatile memory field effect transistors. The intellectual merit of this proposal is also in finding new ways of combining these materials that possess very different electronic, mechanical and optical properties, then using them in the form of nanofibers that have a large aspect ratio and even larger surface to volume ratio to fabricate and test devices and sensors. A range of experiments has been proposed using electrospun polymer and metal oxide nanofibers, and thin films and to study charge transport in crossed polymer nanofibers. Our approach to making polymer nanofibers via electrospinning is unique and differs from the research of others who typically use templates or other complex methods. The proposed research includes ceramics, polymer science, physics, nanoscience and electronics and is multidisciplinary, giving students a sound and direct research experience that will help them in graduate school and in job searches.
The University of Puerto Rico at Humacao (UPRH) is the main undergraduate institution in the Sciences in the southeastern region of Puerto Rico. It was established in 1962 as part of the effort of the University of Puerto Rico to extend opportunities for higher education throughout the Island. The UPRH serves a student body coming mainly from the 15 municipalities that constitute its service area. It has a current enrollment of 4,400 students, 81% of whom are in the low-income bracket and receive financial aid, 98% are Hispanic, 71% are women, and 82% graduated from the public school system. While this campus offers undergraduate degrees in sciences, arts and business, the science section is stronger than the rest. Within the sciences section, the University offers Bachelorís degrees in Biology, Industrial Chemistry, Physics Applied to Electronics and Computational Mathematics. In addition, there are two-year associate degree courses offered by the Chemistry and Physics and Electronics Departments for students who wish to enter the work force quickly.
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