Nam awarded NASA Early Career Faculty funding


Assistant Professor SungWoo Nam has won a NASA Early Career Faculty Award for his research, “Corrugated Two-dimensional Material Enabled Flexoelectricity for Cryogenic Actuator Technology.”
The Early Career Faculty component of NASA’s Space Technology Research Grants Program awards grants to outstanding young faculty researchers. The three-year funding is awarded based on the theoretical feasibility of ideas and approaches that are critical to making science, space travel, and exploration more effective, affordable, and sustainable. 
“With the support of the NASA Early Career Faculty award, I am excited to explore flexoelectricity of crumpled 2D semiconductors for advanced cryogenic actuators. This new phenomenon, which was largely unexplored in bulk semiconductors, will not only enable new scientific understanding of strain-gradient induced polarization of crumpled 2D semiconductors, but also bring significant improvements to performance and reliability of next-generation cryogenic actuators,” said Nam.
Next-generation cryogenic actuator technology (CAT) calls for a wide range of operating temperatures, from -296 °C (liquid helium) to 116 °C (max on moon surface). Achieving such a wide range is challenging for conventional piezoelectric actuators because at low temperatures, piezoelectric coefficient will drastically decay, and at high temperatures (near the Curie temperature) the devices will be depolarized and completely inoperable. These performance degradations are especially problematic for conventional polycrystalline piezoelectric materials. 
Nam earned his PhD in applied physics in 2011 from Harvard University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, before joining MechSE in the fall 2012. 
His research program at Illinois is focused on multifunctional engineered nanomaterials and devices. In particular, his laboratory focuses on nano-engineering graphene and two-dimensional materials-based nanostructures and devices for multifunctionality.