Assistant Professor Nicola Perry receives NSF CAREER Award
The NSF’s Early Career Development Program’s CAREER Awards are prestigious, competitive awards given to young faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholar through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research. The program will provide five years of support for the award.
The project funded by the award is entitled "Dynamic point defect architectonics – uncovering crystal chemical design rules for tailored chemical expansion."
“This project focuses on a technologically important class of ceramics, called perovskites, and seeks to understand how their structure at the level of local charge, atom, and bond arrangements impacts how they change size during breathing,” said Perry.
“A number of ceramic materials “breathe” – they can exchange species, such as oxygen or water, with an adjacent gas or material, causing a change in their size,” Perry explains. “This stretching of the brittle ceramics can pose problems for their durability when they are constrained in devices, such as sensors, reactors, batteries, and fuel cells: it can cause cracks and fracture. On the other hand, this “breathing” behavior raises the possibility to develop a new application: actuators for use in extreme environments.”
The research aims to develop design rules for ceramics with better durability for energy conversion and storage applications and tailored responses for novel actuators and optimized measurements.
These efforts will include international exchange visits to Japan and collaboration with computational groups, which will train students to be clear communicators, cross-culturally sensitive, both computationally and experimentally literate, and motivated toward deep learning. In addition, the project supports a new summer camp module for high school girls, which links to the research applications in sustainable energy. It will allow students to build and test clean energy conversion devices and will take place within the existing Girls Learning About Materials (GLAM) camp.
Perry joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 2018. Her group develops new synthesis and high temperature characterization methods to tailor and understand point defect-mediated properties in functional oxides. In addition to the NSF CAREER award, Perry has previously been recognized with a DOE Early Career Award, J. Bruce Wagner Jr. Award from the Electrochemical Society, IUMRS Award for Encouragement of Research, two Kakenhi young scientist grants from JSPS, and the Edward C. Henry Award from the American Ceramic Society.