California State University Northridge (CSUN) is one of the largest universities in the US with annual enrollment over 40,000 students and is classified as both Hispanic-serving and Minority-serving institution. More than 50% of the students who indicated ethnicity are from underrepresented groups (URGs). Approximately 46% of the total student population is of Hispanic background. CSUN ranks 13th in awarding bachelor's degrees to underrepresented minority students and 7th in bachelor's degrees to Latino students in the US. This Partnership in Research and Education for Materials (PREM) project strives to expand and strengthen the research and educational activities at CSUN by forming a long-term partnership with Princeton Center for Complex Materials. The vision of the PREM is to establish a joint research powerhouse on quantum materials, to increase recruitment, retention and degree attainment by members of URGs and to impact broadly on materials research, education and outreach. Multipronged strategies will be carried out to recruit students from URGs. It is anticipated that 15-20 graduate and 30-35 undergraduate students - most of them from URGs - will be involved in cutting-edge materials research mentored by the faculty and will graduate with M.S. and B.S. degree, respectively. Summer research training programs for undergraduates and high school teachers will be organized at Princeton, while nano-science summer camps for high school teachers will be organized at CSUN. A new set of experimental courses preparing the students for research will be developed. Partnership with industry and national laboratories for student training and internships will also be developed. The integration of research and education will enable students to make informed career choices and improve their ability to participate in post-graduate education.
This PREM aims to address fundamental problems in quantum materials that have vital scientific and technological importance as well as economical and societal impacts, such as renewable energy, nanotechnology, spintronics and quantum computing. A multidisciplinary team with coordinated and complementary skills is assembled into two interdisciplinary groups (IRGs) and one seed project. IRG1 will tackle frontier problems in quantum and topological materials, including spontaneous fractional topological quantum Hall effect in frustrated materials, fractional topological physics in periodically driven systems, and detecting fractional statistics for quasi-particles in interaction driven systems. Along with the fundamental advance, this IRG will also explore computational discovery of novel topological materials. IRG2 will focus on energetics and dynamics of excited states in quantum materials, including organic materials for singlet fission, two-dimensional (2D) semiconductor heterostructures, and 2D hybrid perovskites for photovoltaic applications. The seed project will address surface science and defect physics problems relevant to photocatalytic splitting of water on anatase titania and 2D materials.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.