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Electrical engineering graduate student Cólon wins AVS' Falicov Prize

Juan A. Cólon SantanaJuan A. Cólon Santana

Juan A. Cólon Santana, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln electrical engineering doctoral student, has been recognized at the national level for research excellence. The American Vacuum Society has awarded him the 2011 Falicov Prize for outstanding research performed by a graduate student in areas related to magnetic interfaces and nanostructures.

The award honors the memory of Leo M. Falicov, an esteemed professor and prominent theoretical physicist who made significant contributions to magnetism and other fields of solid-state physics. He spent the bulk of his career at the University of California, Berkeley.

"This is exciting recognition from the scientific community for UNL research on high-quality magnetics and materials research," said Jerry Hudgins, professor and chair of UNL's Department of Electrical Engineering. Hudgins and Peter Dowben, professor of physics and astronomy, nominated Cólon for the honor.

Cólon received the award at the society's recent symposium, where he also was invited to present his work. Also earning awards at the AVS event were UNL Electrical Engineering's Daniel Schmidt, a post-doctoral research associate, and Brian Rodenhausen, a graduate student, who received one of three Applied Surface Science Division Awards.

With a team at UNL's Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, Cólon introduces magnetism into electronic devices to expand the functionality of transistors and diodes.

"In principle, improved electronic devices can be made from material that is smaller and more dense -- for example, to open up the whole area of quantum computing," Hudgins said. "A long-term goal is huge computational power in small volumes of material with very little energy used."

Cólon conducts research in collaboration with Dowben and UNL's Kirill Belashchenko, Jinke Tang of the University of Wyoming and Yaroslav Losovyj of Louisiana State University.

Cólon from San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, has already earned a patent from his previous work on magnetic properties at room temperature in which he controls devices' electrical properties by variation of an external magnetic field. His work has also been published in the Virtual Journal of Nanoscience, IEEE Transactions on Magnetics, Applied Physics, and the Journal of Applied Physics.

He expects to complete his Ph.D. at UNL in 2012.

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