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Students reap awards at IEEE Nano 2012 Conference

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By Max Tane, ECE ILLINOIS
March 12, 2013

  • Three graduate students working with Professor Joe Lyding received awards at the IEEE Nano 2012 Conference.
  • Wood was recognized for discovering that the quality of graphene grown on copper depends closely on the crystal structure of the copper substrate. Koepke was recognized for his work studying defects in graphene and trying to understand their effect on the electronic properties of graphene.
  • He was awarded for his paper on the atomic-resolution characterization of few-layered water trapped under graphene.

With 30 minutes to go before ECE graduate student Kevin He’s presentation at the IEEE Nano 2012 conference in Birmingham, England, something completely unexpected—and potentially very dangerous—happened. 

While entering the dark projection room to load his slides for his presentation, He took a wrong turn and walked straight into an access shaft to the lower level. The shaft was about eight feet deep, and he dropped straight down, spraining his ankle in the process.  Without treatment, He gathered himself, made his presentation, and was eventually awarded the Best Student Paper Award for the conference.

“Fortunately I didn't hit my head or break any bones,” He said. “I didn't have any time to go to the hospital before my scheduled talk, so I limped up to the stage and gave my presentation the best that I could.”

The triumph on winning the award certainly made the pain of He’s sprained ankle go away.

“I was definitely very excited, though not completely surprised,” He said. “As the organizers had hinted earlier in the day, I was in contention for an award.”

ECE graduate students Josh Wood, Kevin He, and Justin Koepke were honored at the IEEE Nano 2012 Conference. They are pictured with their advisor Professor Joe Lyding (second from left).
ECE graduate students Josh Wood, Kevin He, and Justin Koepke were honored at the IEEE Nano 2012 Conference. They are pictured with their advisor Professor Joe Lyding (second from left).

He’s award-winning paper was on the atomic-resolution characterization of few-layered water trapped under graphene.  His research focuses on the study of graphene-substrate interfaces using scanning tunneling microscopy.

He received his bachelors and masters degrees from ECE ILLINOIS in 2007 and 2009, respectively. He will graduate with his PhD this year.

He has been working with Professor Joseph W. Lyding’s research group. Lyding’s group is involved in three key aspects of graphene research. One is the growth of graphene monolayers for potential wafer-scale applications. The second is the atomic scale characterization of these grown graphene films. The third is the fabrication of novel devices and structures that leverage the properties of graphene.

“Basically, our group used a scanning tunneling microscope to image the structure of very thin water, which was encapsulated under a graphene film on a mica surface,” He said. “Understanding the structure of this water can have important implications in protein folding and even nanoelectronics.”

Within Lyding’s research group, two other students received recognition at the conference. Justin Koepke and Joshua Wood won the Geim and Novoselov Graphene Prize, an award named in honor of the 2010 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics for graphene.

Wood, who earned his master’s degree from ECE ILLINOIS in 2009, was recognized for discovering that the quality of graphene grown on copper depends closely on the crystal structure of the copper substrate. During this graphene growth, individual graphene grains coalesce into a continuous film that contains grain boundaries that are known to interfere with graphene's electronic properties. Wood is co-advised by Lyding and ECE Professor Eric Pop.

Koepke, who earned his bachelors in 2006 and masters in 2010 from Illinois, was recognized for his work studying defects in graphene and trying to understand their effect on the electronic properties of graphene.

“Kevin, Josh and Justin represent the three major pillars of graphene research in my group,” Lyding said. “It is most gratifying to see how the international nanotechnology community has gauged their work at such a major conference.”

The IEEE Nano 2012 Conference was held August 20 to 23, 2012. Lyding is a researcher in the Beckman Institute and Pop is a researcher in the Mirco and Nanotechnology Lab.

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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