Research 

South Dakota Mines’ Nanoscience and Nanoengineering Ph.D. program is an interdisciplinary doctoral program focusing on science and engineering at the nano-scale, a tiny world a hundred thousand times smaller than a human hair. Student researchers visualize life at the cellular and sub-cellular level, and manipulate matter at these nano-length scales, developing new technologies and unlocking the secrets of the nano-world. SD Mines’ nano program offers a research-intensive degree, with faculty and students from traditional science and engineering backgrounds working in interdisciplinary teams to tackle issues such as the causes and cures of osteoarthritis, more efficient solar energy and imaging the inner workings of live cells. 

Examples of active research areas in the nano-SE PhD program are: synthesis and characterization of nanocomposite materials; high resolution electron microscopy; epitaxial semiconductor nanostructures; and nano-scale spectroscopy utilizing ultrafast lasers. The program has ties with the School of Mines Composites and Polymer Engineering Laboratory, which focuses on the synthesis, processing, and characterization of nanocomposite materials. Funding for nano-SE research at SDSM&T is provided through the State of South Dakota, as well as several federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE), and NASA. Examples of active and past research grants of faculty involved in the nano-SE program are reproduced below.

Partial List of Funded Research Projects

  • Design and development of a femtosecond apertureless near-field microscope (Smith, NSF)
  • Development of super-resolution optical microscopy techniques (Smith, DOE/NREL)
  • Photo-activated localization microscopy of single carbohydrate binding modules (Smith, NSF)
  • Nanoscale ultrafast spectroscopy of nanoscale energy materials (Smith, SDBOR)
  • Development of advanced photovoltaic materials (Smith, Ahrenkiel, Zhu, NASA)
  • Lattice-mismatched eptaxial films for multijunction photovoltaics (Ahrenkiel, DOE)
  • Broad-spectrum organic/inorganic photovoltaic materials and devices (Ahrenkiel, Yang, NSF)
  • Nanostructured materials for photocatalysis (Ahrenkiel, DOE)
  • Nano imprinting and lithography (Zhu, PRF)
  • Nano-scaled polymer, ceramic and carbon/graphite fibers and their applications (Fong, DOD,NIH)
  • Polymer processing and nanocomposites (Salem, NASA)