Chemistry Major Wins National Nanotech Competition
Elisabeth Bianco, undergraduate chemistry major, received the $3,000 first place award at the second annual Notre Dame Competition in Nanoscience and Nanoengineering on October 5.
Bianco won for her exploration of the properties of a one-atom thick layer of germanium, which she synthesized and characterized for the first time.
This work could have many practical applications. Bianco’s advisor is Joshua Goldberger, assistant professor, chemistry.
When Bianco was working her way through general chemistry courses it never occurred to her that she would ever want to major in chemistry — until she took Josh Goldberger’s CHEM 123 course.
“I was pretty much in his office all the time, hounding him for more information and asking him endless questions,” Bianco said.
His answers were obviously inspiring because Bianco is now not only a chemistry major but a chemistry major who just received a big national research award.
She remembers the exact date she started doing undergraduate research in Goldberger’s lab: March 5, 2011.
This is where Bianco began working on germanium, which became the basis for her Notre Dame Competition research. “What is unique about the project is that it had never been produced in a two-dimensional fashion before,” she said. “It required a lot of work.”
Goldberger related that Bianco actually spearheaded this project and will be first author of a paper that is to be published in the journal, Nano Letters.
“When I learned about the Notre Dame Nanotech competition, I thought Elisabeth would be perfect for it,” Goldberger said.
“The process began in May when I submitted my proposal,” Bianco said. “Several of us were accepted and we each received a $500 Summer Research Initiation Grant. The research took about two and a half months and I submitted my PowerPoint on August 15.”
From that original talented pool of students at top schools across the country, Bianco was one of seven invited to Notre Dame to present her research. She was the only chemist — the other six finalists were engineers — and, she said, ”All four judges were engineers.”
Bianco, who will graduate in June 2013, and plans to begin graduate work in chemistry next fall is very specific about what kind of chemist she is. “I love inorganic chemistry. I plan to stay in materials, solid-state chemistry. Solid-state devices are really fascinating and the potential for future work is wide-open — there are boundless possibilities.”
Goldberger agrees. “Eventually, materials chemistry at the atomic scale will have a profound impact on all sciences. Chemistry originated the field and brought about all the advances we now can make.”