Two materials PhD students, Saurav Roy and Kira Wyckoff, have received Excellence in Research Graduate Fellowships from UC Santa Barbara’s Institute for Energy Efficiency (IEE), the College of Engineering’s interdisciplinary research center dedicated to cutting-edge science and technologies that support a more efficient and sustainable future. The award provides $22,500 in funding per person for one quarter of tuition, fees, and stipend.
“On behalf of the Institute for Energy Efficiency and our fellowship selection committee, I offer my sincerest congratulations to Saurav Roy and Kira Wyckoff,” said Mark Abel, associate director of the IEE. “We are proud to support their pursuit of impactful research that seeks to improve energy efficiency. They are on track to play significant roles in the next generation of energy- and sustainability-aware scientists who are determined to make a difference.”
“I am extremely excited, and it is a huge honor to receive the IEE Fellowship,” said Saurav, a second-year materials PhD student, who received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Silchar in India. “I look forward to engaging with the IEE and will continue working tirelessly to contribute to the field of energy efficiency.”
Advised by materials assistant professor Sriram Krishnamoorthy, Saurav’s research focuses on the design, modeling, and fabrication of novel gallium oxide-based devices for high-voltage and high-current applications. The use of an ultra-wide bandgap semiconductor (UWBG), such as gallium oxide-based devices in power electronics, can significantly reduce energy loss during power conversions.
“The use of power-efficient electronic devices will lead to less energy loss and drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which would decrease the damaging effects of energy generation and the world’s overall carbon footprint,” explained Saurav, who also thanked Krishnamoorthy for providing an opportunity to pursue such an exciting and challenging area of research. “My work, supported by this fellowship, will broaden the range of technologies to make electric-power usage more efficient and environmentally friendly, thus, providing a more sustainable technology space for generations to come.”
A fifth-year materials PhD student, Wyckoff is advised by materials professor Ram Seshadri. Her research focuses on driving the advancement of the next generation of lithium (Li)-ion battery electrode materials. The growing popularity of Li-ion battery-reliant technologies in electric vehicles has hastened the need to improve the electrode material’s efficiency, fast-charging capabilities, and longevity. She is working to overcome the deficiencies of rapid lithium insertion, which include particle cracking and diminished performance.
“I am developing an understanding of specific crystallographic features that minimize structural changes, which directly improve the efficiency and sustainability of lithium-ion batteries by allowing more rapid cycling and longer lifespans,” explains Wyckoff, who received her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at UCSB. “Improvements in these areas are critical for more practical electric vehicles with efficient and dependable batteries that can last for decades.”
Wyckoff says that she is thrilled and extremely grateful to the IEE for awarding the fellowship, and she hopes the honor leads to continued momentum in her research.
“I feel fortunate to have access to such world-class facilities and faculty, as well as the guidance from my advisor, Ram Seshadri,” said Wyckoff. “I truly value collaborative research and will continue to leverage UCSB’s facilities and research network to develop more efficient battery materials, which could possibly lead to commercialization.”