Published on Monday June 1, 2009
The Department of Materials Science and Engineering is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Steven May as assistant professor to begin September 1, 2009. At Drexel, Dr. May's research group will focus on oxide materials for energy applications.
Graduating with his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University in 2007, Dr. May's dissertation work concentrated on the synthesis and electrical characterization of magnetic semiconductors. Dr. May received his undergraduate degree in engineering science from Pennsylvania State University, where his research focused on improving the performance of amorphous silicon solar cells.
From 2007 to 2009, Dr. May has been a postdoctoral researcher at Argonne National Laboratory, where his work has focused on the synthesis and characterization of magnetic thin films and heterostructures. Using a technique known as molecular beam epitaxy, he synthesizes oxide films a single atomic layer at a time, allowing for the creation of material structures that cannot be realized with bulk synthesis techniques. One example of a material structure made possible through this synthesis strategy is a superlattice, which consists of alternating layers of different materials (A/B/A/B, etc). The properties of superlattices can be strikingly different from that of the component materials (A or B). In one example,
Dr. May has shown that novel magnetic properties can emerge at interfaces between different oxide materials (Fig. 1). Superlattices have also been used to study the effect of atomic disorder in magnetic materials. By creating a superlattice with an ordered atomic arrangement, it has been found that magnetic properties of oxides can be substantially improved (Fig. 2).
Beginning this fall, Dr. May's research group will employ atomically controlled synthesis to create new materials for applications in energy conversion, energy storage, and low power electronics. The group will construct a custom molecular beam epitaxy system to allow for the deposition of films and superlattices with atomic precision. The group will focus on complex oxides, a fascinating class of materials already used in fuel cells, batteries, and electronics due to their multifunctional properties. In addition to synthesis, a range of characterization techniques will be utilized including electrical, optical, and structural measurements performed at Drexel, as well as advanced x-ray and neutron scattering performed at national laboratories. Through this combination of advanced synthesis and characterization, the group aims to discover new materials for the next generation of devices for energy conversion, energy storage, and information technology.