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U. T. Dallas Nanotechnology Scientists
Three Faculty Members Net Awards from Air Force, NASA
RICHARDSON, Texas (April 3, 2003) - Nanotechnology scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) have won two federal research grants totaling more than $500,000, the university announced today.
The largest of the awards is a three-year, $460,000 grant from the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research to three members of the UTD faculty to produce prototypes of photocells from polymer nanofibers and carbon nanotubes. The co-principal investigators on the grant are Dr. Anvar A. Zakhidov, professor of physics and associate director of the UTD NanoTech Institute, Dr. John P. Ferraris, professor of chemistry and head of the Department of Chemistry, and Dr. Kenneth J. Balkus, Jr., professor of chemistry.
The goal of the research is the creation of low-cost, ultra-lightweight, deployable solar cell arrays that could be used to generate electric power for spacecraft, among other applications.
The UTD researchers hope to create new photocells composed of polymer nanofibers and carbon nanotubes and engineered to maximize the transformation of light into electricity. The research team will employ the pioneering concept of dual-fiber electrospinning in its work. Electrospinning is a process that utilizes both electrostatic and mechanical forces to produce polymer fibers in the nanometer diameter range.
The other grant, valued at $70,000, is an extension of an existing contract from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for research begun by Zakhidov three years ago, while he was employed by Honeywell International in New Jersey. Zakhidov will continue the research - which involves growing single wall carbon nanotubes in a micro-gravity climate - as a subcontractor to Honeywell.
Zakhidov's work for NASA involves utilizing a near-zero-gravity environment to build longer and stronger carbon nanotubes - nanostructures with unique electronic and mechanical properties. The research, now being conducted in laboratories in the U.S. and Japan, could be transferred to the International Space Station in the future.
A native of the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, Zakhidov holds a Ph.D. degree in physics (optics) from the Institute of Spectroscopy of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences in Moscow and a master's degree in physics from Tashkent Technical University. Ferraris earned a Ph.D. degree and an M.A. degree in organic chemistry from The Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. degree in chemistry from St. Michael's College in Vermont. Balkus holds a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of Florida and a B.S. degree in chemistry from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.
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