Student Spotlight: Doctoral Student Sees Potential in Invisible Materials
Third-year doctoral student Emmanuel Okogbue has always used research as a way to satisfy his curiosity. In his field of study, he investigates nanomaterials, or tiny elements invisible to the eye that are used to build vital structures. Though extremely small, these materials have the potential to solve big problems and lead to a paradigm shift in electronics.
Okogbue’s research is targeted at creating novel, multifunctional devices from nanomaterials. He is consistently figuring out new ways in which to shape and form these nanomaterials to render them flexible and stretchable for multifunctional use, including wearable devices and technology.
The implications of his research have the potential to change the way we view and interpret our most used technologies, such as cell phones. The inner workings of electronic devices involve different reactions between nanomaterials that most consumers never think of, but Okogbue thinks about this daily.
Okogbue conducts research under the supervision of Assistant Professor Yeonwoong Jung, which has led to inventions and multiple publications. One of their research exploits involved the reaction between near-atom thickness platinum and selenium elements. By coupling a Japanese paper-cutting art, kirigami, with nanotechnology methods, they created a stretchable conductive material from layers of platinum and selenium compound, and demonstrated its use in transistors and photodetectors. This material and concept opens up an avenue for an array of new technology including smart textiles, thermotherapeutic pads, and electronic patches, to name a few.
Okogbue was born in Nigeria and began his undergraduate education there when he was 15. He then transferred to Florida A&M University, where he completed his bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering. Okogbue obtained his masters degree in electrical engineering at UCF.
“A driving factor for my work ethic is the aspiration to pave a better path from my humble origins, to hopefully inspire both Africans abroad and those living in the African diaspora,” he says.
With his father being a professor, Okogbue was raised with a healthy dose of curiosity toward the situations and things he encountered in the natural world. It is that curiosity that that has fueled his work, which is already getting attention.
He took the first prize award at the NanoFlorida International Conference in 2019. Most recently Okogbue was fully funded to present his research at the prestigious Materials Research Society conference in Boston.
Okogbue says he chose UCF because of its diversity of scientific practices and collaborative efforts.
“You don’t find that just anywhere,” he says, “UCF knows how to do research and do it well. I’m a big fan of UCF.”
Jung says Okogbue’s enthusiasm for impactful research is contagious.
“Outside the lab, Emmanuel is passionate about networking with people in the science community and beyond through active participation in organizations,” says Jung. “He is an active member of the National Society of Black Engineers. where he puts his great communication skills to use by engaging in STEM outreaches to middle and high school students.”
After he completes his doctorate, Okogbue plans on pursuing research positions within the nano-technology field to continue seeking what he refers to as the ‘endless potential’ of nanomaterials.
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