Georgia Tech College of Engineering March 24 announced that two of its staff, including Indian American Sourabh Saha, were honored by the National Science Foundation with a Faculty Early Career Development Award, or CAREER.
Saha, an assistant professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, along with chemical and biomolecular engineering and materials science and engineering schools’ assistant professor Blair Brettmann, will be awarded $500,000 over the next five years for their research.
Saha’s CAREER Award was given in the division for Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation for his research related to rapid manufacture of three-dimensional nanostructures for nano-enabled devices.
Saha directs the Woodruff School’s STEAM lab that focuses on generating scalable manufacturing capabilities to overcome performance tradeoffs such as quality vs. cost of manufacturing.
As demand for nanostructures grows in strategically important fields such as quantum information processing, electric transportation and biomedicine, it will be essential to improve rapid manufacturing techniques, which currently rely on poorly-scalable guesswork.
Saha's goal is to fundamentally transform the three-dimensional printing of complex nanostructures using two-photon lithography, making it a resource-efficient knowledge-based process. The two-photon lithography process uses lasers to print three-dimensional structures in photopolymers, filling an important technology gap between microfabrication that is limited to planar geometries and typical additive manufacturing that cannot print structures with nanoscale features and precision, according to the Georgia Tech news release.
"In theory, it is possible to make a variety of nanostructures using two-photon lithography but fabricating the desired structures is challenging in practice because operators must resort to trial and error," Saha said in the release.
"Our goal is to bridge this gap between theory and practice by generating the relevant process knowledge to enable industrial-scale manufacturers transition nano-enabled devices from the research lab scale to real-world use,” he adds.
Saha's research will be complemented by an educational and outreach program centered around project-based experiential learning for training of the manufacturing workforce, K-12 students and teachers, and undergraduate and graduate students, with a focus on reducing the barriers to diversity, equity and skills acquisition in advanced manufacturing, it said.
The CAREER program offers the NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the effective integration of research and education within the context of the mission of their organizations.