Cherie Kagan: On the brink of a new technological standard

Cherie KaganThe stage is set for a radical transformation of the electronics industry and Cherie Kagan, Associate Professor in Electrical and Systems Engineering and Materials Science, has a leading role.

While electronics is still concerned with the development and application of circuits or systems that manipulate voltages and electronic currents, Kagan is investigating that science on a nano-level, using molecules and nanostructured materials to build devices that promise new ways to transform electronics, harvest energy, diagnose medical conditions, and detect biological and
chemical agents.

“We work with fundamental physical chemistry/materials and device physics of organic, nanocrystal and nanowire semiconductors and their hybrids and optimize their performance for low-cost, flexible electronics, optoelectronics, solar photovoltaics (PVs) and implantable bioengineered devices,” she says.

Research in molecular and nanoscale architectures is transformative, says Kagan, who integrates chemistry into the study of electronic technology. “Many of the ways to prepare those materials, whether they are nanostructured materials or molecular materials, is through chemistry,” she says. “Manipulating and positioning these materials can also be achieved through chemical approaches.”

Kagan joined the faculty at Penn a little over two years ago from IBM, where she was manager and researcher with the Molecular Assemblies and Devices group. There she used chemistry to design materials and molecular assemblies to make new devices.

“I have always been interested in electronically and optically active materials,” she says, explaining that electronics and chemistry have much in common when it comes to understanding semiconductors. “When you make semiconductors small, they look a lot like molecules. Since they are or behave like molecules, many of the physical phenomena that describe these systems can also be described in the language of chemistry.”

Kagan’s research focuses on the electronic function of molecules, and how through chemical manipulation, those molecules can be built into devices or used to tailor semiconductor nanocrystals and nanowire devices. She also studies interfacial charge transfer to learn how to integrate molecular systems with other components of an electronic system.

View the rest of the article in Penn Engineering Magazine: “On the brink of a new technological standard,” by Amy Biemiller.

Interested? Learn more!

View Cherie Kagan’s Faculty Profile
The Kagan Group

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