May 30, 2008 — Dr. Emil Prodan, assistant professor in the Physics Department at Stern College for Women, has been awarded a two-year, $45,000 grant by the Research Corporation, a Tucson, Arizona-based foundation for the advancement of science. The grant will enable Dr. Prodan to start a Molecular Electronics Research Program.
Also, Stern College physics professor Dr. Anatoly Frenkel received a renewal of a 1995 US Department of Energy grant to continue his work on the mechanism of catalysis, a process that makes chemical reactions more efficient. The renewal guarantees $1 million for the next three years.
Dr. Prodan’s research program will build on his recent contributions to the modern formulation of tunneling transport, which studies how electrons can be forced to “tunnel” through molecular wire that is attached to metal electrodes, creating a small electrical current that can have various technological applications. He hopes to investigate the transport characteristics of organic molecules linked to gold and silicon electrodes, as well as other experiments.
The grant, which will be matched with $9,000 from Yeshiva University, will be used primarily for infrastructure, including computer equipment and workstations, as well as stipends for up to five undergraduate students from Stern College, who will assist with input files, testing, output analysis, and interpretation of results.
After an initial review phase, Dr. Prodan will design and test molecular electronic devices that can be integrated into molecular chips and also look for devices that have highly sensitive transport characteristics. While the grant is exclusive to his work, he does plan to involve other institutions.
“At Stern, we will conduct data analysis and simulations, while my collaborators at Columbia and Princeton will conduct experiments, which we will work together to understand,” Dr. Prodan said. “I’d like for the students involved in this project to see how others do research in this field.”
Dr. Frenkel’s original application was for the creation of a Synchrotron Catalysis Consortium, with funds divided between Yeshiva University and the University of Delaware and spent on upgrading and building new facilities dedicated to catalysis and nanoscience research at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Suffolk County, NY.
According to Dr. Frenkel, the new grant will help run the consortium, fund summer research internships for two YU and University of Delaware undergraduates, hire additional support staff for the more than 300 annual visitors from other universities and industry, and establish more infrastructure, including the development of new X-ray detectors that will combine the project’s current X-ray absorption spectroscopy with X-ray diffraction. He will continue overseeing the research and education activities of the consortium with the other principal investigators, Prof. J. Chen of the University of Delaware and Dr. R. Adzic of Brookhaven.