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University of North Texas Leads New Consortium on Advanced Semiconducting Technologies

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DENTON, Texas — The University of North Texas (UNT) College of Engineering is at the forefront of a groundbreaking initiative aimed at advancing the science and applications of emerging semiconducting materials. This initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Agency (DOE-NNSA), will bolster national security and simultaneously train a diverse workforce in these pivotal disciplines.

The Consortium on Sensing, Energy-efficient Electronics, Photonics with 2D Materials and Integrated Technologies (SEEP-IT) is set to receive a total of $5 million over the next five years from the DOE-NNSA Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program.

Anupama Kaul, UNT PACCAR Professor of Engineering, emphasized the importance of exploring innovative semiconductors. “To remain competitive and ensure our national security, we must delve into semiconductors that offer functionalities beyond conventional materials,” Kaul stated. She further highlighted the consortium’s role in fostering innovation across various research disciplines.

SEEP-IT, under Kaul’s leadership as the principal investigator, comprises a team of 15 faculty and scientists. Collaborators include Weidong Zhou from the University of Texas at Arlington and Mansour Mortazavi from the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Additionally, the consortium collaborates with DOE’s Argonne and Sandia National Labs, bringing the total funding to $7.45 million.

Kaul’s research, deeply rooted in low-dimensionality materials like 2D materials, showcases the potential of these materials in electronics, photonics, and sensors. She collaborates closely with co-PI Yuankun Lin, a professor of physics at UNT, and co-PI Pamela Padilla, UNT’s vice president for research and innovation. Padilla emphasized the importance of providing diverse UNT students with research opportunities that are pivotal for economic development and national security.

SEEP-IT’s scientific goals encompass enhancing ionizing radiation detection using silicon photonics and 2D materials, developing innovative sensor technologies, and exploring light-matter interactions. Kaul expressed the consortium’s unique position in addressing the challenges faced by the NNSA through their research.

A significant aspect of SEEP-IT is its focus on educational and outreach initiatives. The consortium aims to inspire and recruit students, especially from underrepresented groups in STEM, and provide them with opportunities in research of national significance. Vijay Vasudevan, chair of UNT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, highlighted SEEP-IT’s role in motivating students in the STEM fields.

Kaul concluded by emphasizing the importance of a diverse STEM workforce in addressing the intricate challenges in the semiconductor domain. “A skilled workforce in semiconductors is crucial for driving our economy and strengthening our national security,” she said.

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