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Source: Kabeer Jasuja, kabeer@k-state.edu; Nihar Mohanty, niharm@k-state.edu;
and Vikas Berry, 785-532-5519, vberry@k-state.edu
News release prepared by: Jennifer Torline, 785-532-0847, jtorline@k-state.edu

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

AMONG THE ELITE: TWO K-STATE DOCTORAL STUDENTS AMONG TOP 20 GRADUATE STUDENTS IN THE WORLD

MANHATTAN – Two Kansas State University doctoral students have received international recognition for their research with graphene.

The Global School of Advanced Studies, or GSAS, has honored Kabeer Jasuja, a doctoral student in chemical engineering, India, and Nihar Mohanty, a doctoral student in chemical engineering, India, as two of the top 20 graduate students around the globe.

As GSAS fellows, Jasuja and Mohanty will travel to Grenoble, France, from June 20 to 26 to attend the “Graphene Fundamental and Applications” session, which is conducted by worldwide leaders in carbon science and technology. Both will graduate with doctoral degrees in August.

During the international session, Jasuja, Mohanty and other young researchers will listen to lectures on graphene, a newly discovered form of carbon that is only one atom thick. They also will work in teams to design a research project related to graphene. The teams will compete against each other and the best research project will be turned into a real project that begins in January. Seven of the top 20 graduate students will return to France in spring 2012 to work on the winning project as post-doctoral fellows.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the group of students, learning more about graphene through the lectures and designing a completely new post-doctoral project that may discover a new aspect of graphene,” said Mohanty, who also recently received the K-State Alumni Association’s Anderson Graduate Award for Academics.

Jasuja and Mohanty applied for the GSAS award and were also nominated by Vikas Berry, assistant professor of chemical engineering and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award winner.  Both students performed their doctoral research under Berry’s direction. They conducted fundamental and applied research in several areas, including graphenic materials, ultrathin boron nitride sheets, molecular electromechanics, molecular springs and bionanotechnology.

“Both Kabeer and Nihar have exhibited tremendous discipline, diligence and focus toward the research projects assigned to them,” Berry said. “This makes a great difference in systematically testing and developing new ideas and conducting quality research. Both have been intimately involved with research. They have worked late in the night on several occasions to complete tasks on time.”

Individually, Jasuja has worked in a diverse set of fields including molecular electronics, graphene functionalization, boron-nitride-sheet protonation and electro-mechanics of molecules. Mohanty studied the structural and chemical properties of graphene for electronics and sensing. He has worked on graphene biosensors, graphene-wrappers for bacterial cell imaging and production of graphene nanostructures, including nanoribbons and quantum dots for thin film transistors and optoelectronics.

Both students collaborated with K-State researchers in engineering, biology and other areas.

“A lot of research being done with graphene is only through collaboration,” Jasuja said. “Especially when a material is new, it brings people from different disciplines together and combines their expertise on a single platform. It requires a collaborative environment, and that’s what I got at K-State.”

Jasuja and Mohanty have each published four papers. They were part of Berry’s research team to publish  a paper in Nano Letters that is one of the journal’s top 20 most-cited papers. The researchers have two more articles in submission and were the first to use graphene for biosensing and chemical sensing. Mohanty and Berry also have a patent pending on a novel large-scale production strategy for graphenic nanostructures.

In July, Mohanty will move to New York, where he has a job with Tokyo Electron and will develop a process technology for next generation semiconductor microprocessors. Jasuja will be a post-doctoral fellow at Northwestern University starting in the fall and will study graphene and carbon nanotubes.