Graduating with an honors degree in the department of physics is pretty impressive, and one outgoing senior has recently completed the thesis requirement, which he presented on April 28 at the CERCA student research event.
As one would expect a senior honors thesis to be, the research is complex and a bit hard to reduce to a summary, but Austin has given us an abstract that can give a little taste of the level of expertise and research experience that can be expected from a senior Blugold physics major.
The topic of Austin's research is organic light-emitting diodes (OLED's). What on earth is that, you may be asking? Well, you've probably heard of LED technology, which we now find in smart phones, tv's and computer monitors. These technologies make use of a luminescent layer of organic compound that emits light in response to an electric current.
Here is a short abstract of the thesis:
Our research is focused on organic electronics, in particular organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). Electronic devices made with OLEDs do not require a backlight, so they can be thinner, more energy efficient, and have greater contrast than LCDs. In addition, the electrical resistance of OLEDs changes in a magnetic field, a property referred to as Organic Magnetoresistance, or OMAR. OMAR is not yet well understood, but it is generally believed to be a spintronic effect.
In collaboration with researchers at the University of Iowa, we fabricated OLEDs made with the organic polymer P3HT, and we found that by temporarily exposing these OLEDs to x-ray radiation, we permanently increased their OMAR by about 10%! Currently, we are exploring the fundamental physics behind OMAR and putting existing theoretical models to the test by fabricating OLEDs specially designed to isolate the OMAR effects predicted by theory.
Students come in wondering what they want to study and unsure of their paths, but there are many opportunities to explore and move beyond coursework to explore the world around us.
Congratulations to Austin for both his honors thesis and graduation.