Naval Academy Physics Professor Recognized for Research Excellence
POSTED ON: Tuesday, December 18, 2018 3:04 PM by MC2 Burke
Each year the United States Naval Academy recognizes a civilian faculty member who has exhibited the highest quality of continued scholarly achievement by awarding them with the Class of 1951 Civilian Faculty Award for Excellence in Research.
This year the USNA recognizes Professor Raj Basu, a Physics Department associate professor, for his significant accomplishments through original research and publication in the area of liquid crystal physics and nanotechnology.
Why do we care about liquid crystals? Because we all use them in day-to-day life. Look no further than your phone, watch or computer monitor and you will likely find a liquid crystal display (LCD). Focused on better understanding how liquid crystals interact with their environment, Basu has become a world-renowned expert in characterizing liquid crystal-doped nanomaterials.
“What are nanomaterials? Nanomaterials are, for example, carbon nanotubes or graphene,” said Basu. “They are very tiny. You can’t see them with the naked eye or even with a microscope. To take a look at them we have to go to scanning electron microscopy. So if you put those nanoparticles in liquid crystal, and mix them very well, they can sometimes change the intrinsic properties of liquid crystal, because they interact with the liquid crystal at the molecular level.”
Basu’s research helps these nanoscale devices to be more energy efficient and have faster refresh rates.
“In extreme conditions pertaining to the Navy we still want those LCD’s to work properly, but be more efficient,” said Basu. “For example, if you are on a submarine and you have limited power supply, you cannot just use all the power to run those LCD’s. So if we can make more energy efficient displays, you can store more energy to be used in other places.”
While Basu’s research aims to develop better devices, an integral component of his program is the mentorship and education of midshipmen.
“My greatest achievement here is the reward of getting to work with the midshipmen,” said Basu. “When I see their names in my publications, it’s a great feeling. Cultivating that interest in to them, and having excitement that we share is a really good feeling.”
According to Andrew Phillips, Academic Dean and Provost, Basu is known for integrating his research into all aspects of his mentoring of midshipmen, not only in independent research projects, but also in his upper-level physics courses.
“It’s a great honor to have received this award, I did not expect that,” said Basu. “It’s a great feeling when your research is recognized by the whole institution. I’m really honored.”
Basu continued to express passion for his research.
“Liquid crystal technology is skyrocketing, but there are many things we still need to understand about fundamental liquid crystal science,” said Basu. “This is an interest I hope I have for a real long time, I still have a lot to do.”