REU Site: Nanoscale Physics and Materials REU and RET at Penn State

Project: Research project

Project Details



Science, technology, and engineering careers are becoming increasingly dependent on a breadth of knowledge that spans multiple disciplines. This Research Experience for Undergraduates and Teachers at Penn State University addresses this need for multi-disciplinary breadth by engaging a highly diverse group of 10 students and two teachers in cross-disciplinary research in nanoscale physics and materials. Students and teachers will learn and apply cutting-edge scientific techniques and experience the challenges and rewards of working in a collaborative, interdisciplinary research environment. Undergraduate students will also participate in career development activities focused on fortifying the non-technical skills necessary for success in scientific research, including scientific communication and skills for building mentor-mentee relationships. Activities include scientific seminars, professional networking events, outreach activities, and participation in a national conference. Teachers will gain materials science knowledge and transfer their experiences back to their students, influencing them and their community through the development of teaching resources with their peers and Penn State faculty. This research experience aims to inspire and prepare students of all ages to pursue careers in science and engineering, with specific goals to increase representation in science from underrepresented groups, including minorities and women. Most students from this program matriculate to graduate programs in science and engineering or begin careers in science disciplines.


This Research Experience for Undergraduates and Teachers in nanoscale physics and materials emphasizes the investigation, creation and/or manipulation of novel nanostructures and low dimensional materials in order to understand and harness their electrical, optical, magnetic or quantum mechanical properties. Students will participate in 10 weeks of mentored research in projects ranging from the fundamental study of novel physics in topologically active thin films, nanoparticles, few-layered and 2D materials, to the design, testing and application of these materials in devices. Teachers participate in a similar 6-week research project coupled with education-themed scientific workshops. Through their research, students and teachers will have the opportunity to be trained on state-of-the-art materials synthesis and characterization equipment. Complementing their research, students also participate in career development activities aimed at preparing them for and exposing them to scientific research in nanoscale physics and materials. The culmination of their research experiences will be to present their work at a cross-disciplinary undergraduate research symposium at Penn State and some will travel to present their findings at a national conference.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date5/1/194/30/23


  • National Science Foundation: $349,996.00


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