Physics department assistant professor receives UNCF/Mellon award



Zengjun Chen, assistant professor of physics, has been awarded a faculty residency grant from the United Negro College Fund/Andrew W. Mellon Programs. The UNCF/Mellon Faculty Residency Program provides opportunities for selected UNCF faculty to spend up to a semester away from their home institutions to pursue scholarly projects. Chen will spend 2013 summer semester investigating silicon carbide (SiC)-a wide band gap semiconducting material-in the solid state lab at Auburn University.

His proposed project is related to his ongoing research on how the quality of Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (MOS) devices fabricated on SiC can be improved by annealing them in nitric oxide gas (NO) at high temperatures. His aim is to design a theoretical model describing the distribution of nitrogen atoms at the oxide-semiconductor interface during the NO treatment, and to explain why this treatment behaves differently on two faces of SiC, i.e. carbon-face and silicon-face. 

Chen earned his Ph.D. in solid state physics from Auburn University, and for his dissertation, he researched the electrical properties of MOS devices fabricated on 4H carbon-face silicon carbide.