Good things come in small packages: sometimes microscopic ones. Students at Norfolk State University are conducting research with devices that are so tiny that millions of them can fit on the head of a pin. “Thanks to this Dominion Foundation grant, we are able to expand training capabilities for students to learn the fabrication process which uses green technology to improve electronic communications, energy generation and lighting,” said Dr. Demetris L. Geddis, associate professor of engineering and director of the Micro-and Nano Technology Center, the lead professor for this curriculum.
The Dominion Foundation, the charitable arm of Dominion Resources, awarded the university $25,000 to expand its teaching and training of emerging technologies, including microelectronics, optoelectronics, and microfabrications. The courses enable students to learn how to design micro- and nano-scale devices for energy generation and lighting. Green energy devices, such as LED’s and solar cells are created and researched in a “cleanroom” lab environment, where students get hands-on experience. Just as devices like the computer chip led to many changes, innovations and career opportunities, green technology devices are set to do the same.
“It is our expectation that this grant will help NSU students gain valuable knowledge and practical experience in green energy technologies,” said Hunter A. Applewhite, president of the Dominion Foundation. “Educating young engineers about renewable energy is an important step toward a greener future.” NSU graduate student Pallay Kanukuntla said he enjoys fabricating something useful and cost effective.
“I have been working on the design of photo detectors and monitoring undergraduate students’ fabrication of solar cells. This research could be revolutionary in green technology for communications, leading to improvements such as greater efficiency and faster internet speeds.” It’s not only college students who are impacted by the microfabrication lab. Rachel Watson, a first grade teacher in Norfolk public schools is working in the lab this summer to learn how to design lesson plans and better relate green energy technology information to her students.
“By learning about green technology, first graders can understand the importance of recycling materials and how we can harness energy from the sun,” said Watson. “I can teach them how to make a solar house out of recyclable materials. It helps us prepare our students to lead the next generation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields.”