Thursday, February 29, 2024

Student Spotlight: Silu Guo

This issue's Student Spotlight shines on Silu Guo, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in materials science. Her research involves exploring atomic scale structure of advanced materials. Learn about Silu Guo's research!

Silu Guo
Silu Guo
Silu Guo is a fifth-year graduate student in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. Silu’s desire to investigate advanced materials formed during her undergraduate study in multiferroics at Tsinghua University, China, and her master’s research in neuromorphic materials at Northwestern University. Attracted by the diverse and collaborative scientific community at the University of Minnesota, she came here to pursue her Ph.D. degree in materials science.

Guided by the expertise of her advisor, Professor K. Andre Mkhoyan, Silu has explored the fundamental properties and structures of advanced nanoscale materials at atomic scale. Utilizing advanced analytical scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), her research aims to apply these discoveries to enhance materials synthesis techniques and to achieve precise ionic/electronic control for the advancement of atomic scale electronic and spintronic devices.

In recent collaborative research, Silu and her colleagues have unraveled the mechanism of radiolysis-driven restructuring of crystalline structures in rutile titanium dioxide (TiO 2) with atomically sharp cracks (S. Guo et al., Nat Commun 14, 6005 (2023)). In transmission electron microscopy, the radiolysis effect is known to amorphize or crystalize the materials and limit the accuracy of the measurements. However, the precise atomistic mechanisms of these transformations are still under debate. In this project, Silu uses STEM imaging and electron energy loss spectroscopy to study the bond-breakage, atomic movements and crystallization mechanisms in rutile-TiO 2 driven by radiolysis.

Based on these observations, her team proposed a “two-step rolling” model for the TiO 6 octahedral building blocks as a possible mechanism for radiolysis-driven atomic migration in rutile TiO 2. These observations point to new possibilities for using an electron beam to treat sharp cracks in brittle ceramics, improve the quality of wide bandgap thin films during the growth and engineer novel nanostructures with atomic precision.

Beyond the microscope, Silu finds joy in sailing and skiing—two contrasting yet delightful activities that suit Minnesota's diverse seasons. An advocate for interactive sports, she enjoys tennis with friends. She also likes dancing, particularly cha cha and jazz.

Looking ahead, Silu hopes to continue onto academia and develop energy-efficient electronic devices with advanced materials for integrated circuits and data center networks applications while inspiring the next generation of young scientists and researchers.

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