Research conducted and led by physicists Yong Joe, Mahfuza Khatun, and Ronald Cosby through Ball State's Center for Computational Nanoscience takes place at the molecular level, where measurements are in the 109 or billionths of a unit. But the implications of their work are enormous—advancing the university's scientific research climate; opening doors to future partnerships; and promoting the development, transfer, and manufacture of new products and technologies in Indiana and beyond. The Center for Computational Nanoscience, supported in part by a $1.5 million award from the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, was formally opened in September 2003 with a ceremony led by then-governor Joseph E. Kernan. Located on the second floor of Ball State's Cooper Science building, the center features cutting-edge equipment and research labs for use by students, faculty, and visiting researchers.
Each member of the Researcher of the Year team brings a unique background and expertise to the center's projects and the process of facilitating new insights into nanoparticles through modeling and large-scale computer simulation.
Director Yong Joe's background in the study of quantum transport—the unobstructed transfer of information at the nanoscale level—is essential to the success of the center's Coupled Quantum Dots (CQD) project. His research, which is of particular national interest, focuses on the increase of energy transfer, storage, and efficiency.
An expert in condensed matter physics, Mahfuza Khatun is involved in the Quantum-dot Cellular Automata (QCA) research component of the center. By sidestepping the transistor paradigm, QCA consists of ways to transmit information at the nanoscale level without the use of a physical medium (a transistor).
Ronald Cosby, a 37-year Ball State faculty member, introduced nanoscience into the university curriculum in 1999. He has extended his background in solid state physics and his particular expertise in semiconductor technology, solar energy science, and alternative energy studies to the Coupled Quantum Dots research component of the center.
Joe, Khatun, and Cosby also interact with computational nanoscience researchers from a number of universities, including Purdue University, University of Notre Dame, Valparaiso University, and Ohio University—original partner institutions in the Center for Computational Nanoscience.
The researchers' presentations are directed at many and diverse entities, including other universities and high schools; legislative study committees; corporations and nonprofit organizations; international research councils and conferences; and community stakeholders. Their work has been published in dozens of articles in prestigious scientific journals, including Physical Review, Journal of Applied Physics, Journal of Korean Physical Society, Physics Letter, and Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science and Technology.