The overriding goal of my research is to give Emory & Henry undergraduates an opportunity to participate in an immersive research environment. Students have the opportunity to work on significant problems associated with nanostructures and present their research at undergraduate conferences. The ultimate goal is for the work to be peer reviewed with the students as co-authors.  The underlying theme of our research is to enable innovation and design of high-performance nanostructured materials through the mechanistic study of their fracture behavior.  In particular, we study the relationship between material structure and resulting function over length-scales typically ranging from tens of nanometers to subnanometer. We are particularly interested in the relationship between the chemistry and structure of materials in thin films and their thermommechanical behavior, adhesive and cohesive fracture properties, and behavior under complex loading and environmental conditions.

Research in our group typically involves glassy materials and metal films.  These material sets are applicable to a range of scientific and industrial issues and therefore make good model systems for study.  Current research is focused in three areas.  The first is the manipulation of the fracture properties of glassy films through the introduction of secondary chemistries which include organic functionality.  In this work, we are investigating the introduction of these chemistries both after and during growth of these glassy films.  The ultimate goal is to understand the relationship between bonding in the films and the fracture properties associated with that bonding in order to develop glassy films that are stronger and more resistant to environmental attack while maintaining certain electrical properties of the film.  The second area of focus is on the repair of delaminated glassy interfaces with chemistry specific molecular nanolayers.  The ultimate goal of this work is to heal an interface that has delaminated to strengths that exceed the original interfacial strength. Our third area of focus is on the strength of Cu nano-structures.  In this project, we examine the deformation of these structures which are typically smaller than 100 nm in size.  Our goal is to understand how energy is partitioned into the various deformation processes that occur when these nano-structures fracture.  Each of these projects has both general applicability to industries that deal with thin films and specific application to the semiconductor industry.  As a result, we maintain close connections with leading semiconductor manufacturers who often provide us with raw materials to study.

Educational Background

  • B.S., Emory & Henry College — Chemistry and Physics
  • M.S. and Ph.D. Stanford University — Materials Science & Engineering