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UNG professor receives prestigious NSF grant

Aimee Tomlinson NSF grant
Dr. Aimeé Tomlinson explains to her student team several of the concepts behind how she will be identifying materials for use in the NSF-backed project.

To support molecular research that eventually could lead to the development of more efficient electronics, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Chemistry has awarded an $86,000 grant to Dr. Aimeé Tomlinson, associate professor of chemistry at the University of North Georgia (UNG).

Tomlinson, aided by a small team of students, is investigating the creation and use of highly conductive molecules. Their research is making advances in the fundamental knowledge of how structure impacts a molecule's properties. In particular, by varying the number of single and double bonds within the molecule, Tomlinson can enable the flow of electrons within a molecule and generate electric current.

"By understanding how conjugation length impacts the molecule's properties, we will have a better sense for how to create efficient electronics," Tomlinson said. "We will also be identifying the best potential materials for use in the creation of electronic devices."

Tomlinson will identify and determine materials to create, and a student will create them. A second student will then use the materials to produce a device, such as an organic solar cell, and a third student will study and measure the device's performance. In the case of an organic solar cell, though the cell will not be as efficient as a non-organic version, the process used to create it is much more environmentally-friendly. Cells such as these are used to create OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display screens.

"This project has been very beneficial to me — it has really opened up the spectrum of what I feel I can do with physics," said David Wheeler, a junior and one of the students working with Tomlinson on the project. "It's interesting to watch and study our results, as they create relationships between what we are learning in class and what we are creating during the project."

The NSF grant also supports two student stipends of $3,700 for three summers, a total of more than $22,000 allocated for student pay. The other students on the project are seniors Amber Bowman and Jessica Ellett.

"Aimeé continues her outstanding work as a top-notch academic representative of UNG and the College of Science & Mathematics with this grant," said Dr. Mike Bodri, dean of UNG's College of Science and Mathematics. "Her cutting-edge research is blazing new trails for the creation of electronic devices while delivering invaluable experience to her students and further promoting the growing reputation of our Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry."

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