Electrical Engineering Professor Receives NSF CAREER Award: UNM Newsroom

Francesca Cavallo, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of New Mexico, is the recipient of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career Development Award (CAREER).

Cavallo’s project is “Spintronic devices using screw dislocations in single crystal semiconductors”. The goal of the project is to investigate the device physics of a novel spin field effect transistor (spin FET) while expanding the participation of Deaf, Hispanic, and Native American people in nanoscience and engineering.

This work will be the first experimental study to focus on the fabrication and characterization of spin FETs that exploit screw dislocations in conventional semiconductors. A screw dislocation is a type of crystal defect that promises to act as a suitable channel for a spin transistor operating at temperatures relevant for commercial, industrial, and military applications (room temperature and above).

The improved knowledge and technological advances generated in this project will potentially accelerate the very large-scale integration of high-performance spintronic devices, which is necessary for the practical realization of hybrid and fully spin-based classical and quantum computers, Cavallo said.

The $500,000 award will span five years, beginning in July 2022. Work on the project will be done at UNM’s Center for Advanced Technology Materials and in collaboration with the Center for Integrated Nanotechnology in Albuquerque .

Cavallo will also implement an extensive education and outreach plan to expand Deaf, Hispanic, and Native American participation in STEM. Among the planned activities are experiential exhibitions and workshops at the ¡Explora! learning center in Albuquerque, as well as traveling exhibits at community libraries in rural New Mexico and at the New Mexico School for the Deaf in Santa Fe. Cavallo said the inclusion of work with students deaf is because she has a personal connection to the community through her son.

The NSF CAREER program aims to help early-career faculty get a head start in their academic career. The award is NSF’s most prestigious award to support young faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-researchers through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research.

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