Aileen Luo uses x-ray science to characterize materials

Aileen Luo

Aileen Luo is a doctoral candidate in materials science and engineering from Sunnyvale, California. She earned her B.S. in materials science and engineering from UC Berkeley and now characterizes the nanoscale structure of materials under the guidance of Andrej Singer at Cornell.

What is your area of research and why is it important?

I use x-rays to characterize the nanoscale structure of materials under various environmental conditions. Many useful materials have periodic crystalline structures that can be probed by x-rays and directly affect their function and operation. Modern synchrotron x-ray sources combine tunable high photon flux with coherence that enables nanometer length focused beams, which are useful for understanding material properties through atomic scale structure, selectivity of chemical elements, and distribution across a sample.

What are the larger implications of this research?

I study functional oxide materials; specifically, materials for energy storage and conversion and microelectronics. In a world where we rely heavily on energy to power our homes, vehicles, and electronic devices, we must search for new materials that can meet our increasing needs for energy consumption. Part of this challenge is in developing a better understanding of fundamental properties and operating limitations of materials, which is why it is crucial to study materials structures dynamically, as they undergo changes through interacting with environmental or operating conditions.

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