Past Research


At Penn State

Research in the Paul Weiss Group (now in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and the California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles) focuses on control and imaging of molecular and materials structures at surfaces and interfaces. The group uses a variety of scanning probe microscopes: scanning tunneling microscopes (STMs) and atomic force microscopes (AFMs).

During my time in the Weiss Group (in the Department of Chemistry at the Pennsylvania State University) I used AFM-related techniques to to look at a range of surface properties. These include lateral force microscopy (LFM), piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM), electrical force microscopy (EFM), scanning surface potential microscopy (SSPM), and magnetic force microscopy (MFM), and scanning probe nanolithography, as well as the more traditional contact and non-contact topographic modes.

Using these tools, I studied the basic features and processes involved in the patterning of organic self-assembled monolayers using microcontact printing (μCP) and dip-pen nanolithography (DPN). I used STM and LFM to quantify the stability and resolution of these patterns. I also used LFM to explore the fundamental deposition processes involved in DPN by patterning one “ink” directly on top of another one.

At Cornell

My Ph.D. thesis research was completed in Héctor Abruña’s group in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. The research involved the magnetic characterization of electrodeposited thin films, bilayers and multilayers. The samples were cobalt thin films, cobalt-copper bilayers, and cobalt-copper multilayers electrodeposited on gold electrodes. They were characterized by the Surface Magneto-Optic Kerr Effect (SMOKE).

During the spring of 2000, I spent a short time working for Wilson Ho, in the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics (LASSP), part of the Department of Physics. Research in the Ho Group (now in the Department of Physics at the University of California, Irvine) focuses on the use of low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopes (LT-STMs) to do imaging, manipulation, and spectroscopy of single atoms and molecules on surfaces.

From the fall of 1997 through the fall of 1999, I worked for Barbara Cooper (1953-1999) also in LASSP. The research I was involved in with the Cooper Group focused on the interactions of hyperthermal and low energy ions scattering from metal surfaces, including the scattering kinematics and the dynamics of electron transfer processes. The most recent work was directed towards studying the effect that changing the temperature of the surface has on these processes.

Other Graduate School Research

My fellowship from the National Physical Science Consortium (NPSC) gave me the opportunity to spend two summers early in my graduate school career working for my sponsoring employer, the National Security Agency (NSA). I spent those two summers (1997 and 1998) working at the Laboratory for Physical Sciences in College Park, MD, an NSA facility associated with the University of Maryland, College Park.

My first summer, I worked with Ray Phaneuf (now in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Maryland) on Low Energy Electron Microscopy (LEEM). The second summer, I worked with Ricardo Decca (now in the at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis), in the group of Dennis Drew, studying the photoluminescence of semiconductor quantum well/quantum dot samples in preparation for the group’s continuing work with similar samples using Near-Field Scanning Optical Microscopy (NSOM).

At Cambridge

For my M.Phil. research at Cambridge, I worked with John Adkins in the Low Temperature Physics Group, now the Laboratory for Quantum Matter in the Department of Physics. I studied the electrical properties of thermally oxidized copper films, investigating how the conditions of the oxidation (particularly temperature and partial pressure of oxygen) affected the electrical properties of film.

Undergraduate Days

My senior year at Oberlin, I participated in the honors program. I did my honors research with John Scofield studying the complex admittance of thin-film polycrystalline solar cells.

My first research experiences were at AT&T Bell Laboratories (now Bell Labs, part of Alcatel-Lucent). I worked for two summers (1993 and 1994) at their Murray Hill, NJ site as part of the Summer Research Program for Minorities and Women (SRP). My first summer at AT&T, I worked with Jim Eisenstein (a fellow Oberlin Physics alum, now in the Department of Physics at California Institute of Technology) on a project to study the effect of a parallel magnetic field on a two-dimensional electron gas (2DEG) in a GaAs/AlGaAs quantum well structure. The second summer, I worked with Janet Benton on two projects which both used an experimental technique called Deep Level Transient Spectroscopy (DLTS). The first studied the gettering of iron by boron implantation in silicon, and the second investigated the electrical signature of {311} defects in silicon.