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ChE senior enters final round of national undergraduate research competition

Posted in NEWS on Thursday, February 6th, 2014

[Originally posted by VUSE]

Marc Panu is looking forward to a final round in March to determine a first-place award for undergraduate research that will be announced at the 40th annual convention of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) in Nashville.

Panu, a senior in chemical and biomolecular engineering, captured the first-place award in the Undergraduate Students in Technical Research (USTR) Competition among NSBE’s collegiate chapters in Region 3 at its November meeting, moving his paper into national competition March 26-30.

Panu is interested in solving practical engineering problems, particularly relating to environmental issues, and specifically to oil and gas industries, and to sustainable energy advances.

Currently working on a manuscript as a first author that will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, Panu collaborates with Associate Professor Bridget Rogers, whose research group in chemical engineering creates materials and structures using thin film processing techniques and combustion synthesis.

Panu’s research with Rogers focuses on combustion synthesis. His paper, “Combustion Synthesis and Optical Property Tuning of Cerium-Activated Gadolinium Aluminum Garnet (GAG) Phosphor Powders,” which won NSBE’s Region 3 top award, addresses processes to optimize the color of the white light in solid-state lighting.

“A majority of the energy dissipated in incandescent lighting is in the form of heat rather than light. In order to remedy this problem, scientists and engineers have been seriously investigating solid-state lighting (SSL) for the past decade. SSL provides an energy-efficient alternative to incandescent lighting,” Panu said.

Lighting applications that use light-emitting diodes (LEDs), organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), or light-emitting polymers are commonly referred to as SSLs. Unlike incandescent or fluorescent lamps, which create light with filaments and gases encased in a glass bulb, solid-state lighting uses semiconductors that convert electricity into light.

“In order to produce white light, SSL devices combine blue, green and red emissions in the proper proportions. The research I am conducting deals with the green-emitting portion – yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) and gadolinium aluminum garnet (GAG). By altering the composition of GAG, we can tune the wavelength of the emission in order to optimize the color of the final white light,” he said.

Panu sees himself in a career that melds engineering and management – and addresses critical issues in energy and the environment.