Ethiyal Raj Wilson won third place in the NDConnect Undergraduate Research Competition for his presentation “Boron carbide for neutron voltaics in deep space missions and other applications.” Wilson is a junior Physics and Electrical Engineering double major who works in a Department laboratory. His adviser is Peter Dowben, Charles Bessey Professor of Physics.
The research competition was part of the Notre Dame Competition in Nanoscience and Nanoengineering. Fourteen finalists were invited to present their research at the Notre Dame Center for Nano Science and Technology on Oct. 23. Wilson took home $1,000 for placing in the competition.
The applications of boron-carbide semiconductors could have impacts on deep-space probes. The laboratories of Professor Dowben, Associate Professor Axel Enders, Professor Natale Ianno, Research Assistant Professor Tino Hofmann, and others at UNL and elsewhere are exploring how more current could be extracted for every neutron event by developing novel versions of the basic boron carbide.
The Semiconductor Technology Advanced Research Network (STARnet), NASA, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and the Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research provide funding for this research.
Wilson plans to continue this line of research during the school year.
"Research is how we advance science and technology, and even undergrads play a huge role in it," says Wilson. "Not only are there national competitions and conferences based solely on undergraduate research, but the research is almost always intricate and cutting edge, which indicates how important undergraduate research is to the professional and academic world. Being a part of that and seeing the recognition that undergrads receive for their work are what make research exciting."
Wilson has presented at other conferences, including TECHCON 2015 Semiconductor Research Corporation in Austin, TX, the 2015 Undergraduate Poster Session at UNL’s Summer Research Symposium, and the WoPhyS 2015 Sci Derby poster session.
Peter Dowben says he is "honored to have Ethiyal Wilson in my research group as a collaborator. Indeed, as professors, we should be honored that students as excellent as Ethiyal Raj choose to join our research groups."
Above photo: Wilson with a judge from MicroLink Devices Inc. at the University of Notre Dame NDConnect event.