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The Washington Research Foundation Fellowship

Jane Hung, Mathematics and Physics, 2010-11 WRFF/Space Grant

Jane Hung photoAt the age of 16, I left high school after my sophomore year to enter the University as a UW Academy student. I had it in my mind that I wanted to take advantage of one thing that made the University world renowned: research. Accordingly, I applied to the Summer Undergraduate Research Program, and a few months before the start of the school year, I began research with Professor Xiaosong Li and his computational chemistry group. Thanks to the NASA Space Grant Consortium (with a special thanks to Carlos Chavez) and the Mary Gates Endowment, I had tremendous support throughout my first research experience. That initial experience showed me how exciting and challenging research could be, so I decided to stay in the Li group and gain more valuable experience with new projects.

For over a year, I have been working on a computational study of nonlinear optical chromophores, which may play a key role in future nanotechnologies and photovoltaic devices (e.g. LEDs and solar cells). This project has allowed me to work directly with professors, graduate students, and senior research scientists from very different fields. As a consequence of these interactions, I have grown as a researcher, presenter, writer, and student. I have even become a published author.

The insight I have acquired into the materials of the future is absolutely priceless, and my goal now is to help turn clean technology into global power.

Because of the immense generosity of the Washington Research Foundation and the NASA Space Grant Consortium, I can continue to research and develop materials that will become vital future technologies.

Mentor: Xiaosong Li, Chemistry

Project Title: Enhancing First Hyperpolarizability of Nonlinear Optical Chromophore by Substitutions on the Polyene

Abstract: Highly efficient, organic nonlinear optic (NLO) chromophores are being developed as promising candidates for new electro-optic (E-O) devices and nanotechnologies. The E-0 response of chromophore efficiency improves with the increase of the second-order polarizability (p). Considering Dewar's predictions on organic dye structures, the effect on p of single or multiple substitutions of electron donating or electron accepting groups to the conjugation bridge of phenyltetraene-based donor-rc-bridge-acceptor chromophores is investigated. The overall effects of the substitutions can be studied by density functional theory (DFT) calculations with two state model approximations and by finite field calculations. Several common electron donating groups (-OCH3, phenoxide, -N(CH3)2, -NH2) and electron withdrawing groups (-SCH3, -COCH3, -CN, -F) are used as substituents. Bond length alternation (BLA) analysis shows the range of optimal BLA and can characterize the results.