The following is the record of an interview with 4th year CWRU student Kevin Kwock. He’s currently working on his B.S.E. Engineering Physics and music performance degree, B.A. Music – Piano and Harpsichord
1. Can you take me through what research you’ve done/ are currently working on?
I am currently working with Dr. Kash and Dr. Chottiner on a research project regarding crystal ordering in ternary semiconductors. Specifically, ZnSnSb2 has interesting crystal structure near its phase transition temperature; understanding the anion-cation ordering of semiconductors may provide new insights into other families of ternary semiconductors in the same class. In addition to my university research, some of my previous research has been on studying self-assembling ionic liquids and how we can adapt these unique assembled structures to photonic applications.
2. What got you interested in this field of study?
Physics research, particularly materials physics research, has been a common focus throughout my projects. Initially, I was unsure about the type of research I wanted to study, but once I got a taste of nanotechnology research at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, I realized materials physics is interdisciplinary and a field that measures how well one is able to converse with the different sciences. Most of the fundamental research in this area can translate to a multitude of applications across the board. Like the self-assembling ionic liquids project I worked on, materials physics research can apply to a wide range of technologies ranging from biomedical to the solid-state devices.
3. What challenges have you encountered while doing your research?
Understanding the theory, working your way around the apparatus, and allocating equipment time for characterization are some of the necessary skills of an independent researcher. For me, tackling these crucial points of my projects have been challenging. Even though I may occasionally not understand the fundamental science behind my project, my advisors have been there to inspire and support me during those moments.
4. How has doing this research changed your perspective on this field?
Materials physics research itself is a large field and the merits of its research have numerous applications in technology. Research in this field is mostly collaborative and I find that aspect of materials physics exciting to be in. Being able to work with experts from multiple different fields to address nanotechnology research is rewarding and worthwhile to be in.
5. What would you say to someone looking to get into research in your field?
Be ready to try different things and head into materials physics with an open mind. Soon enough, you will be able to find what interests you and what courses inspire you to tackle the problems within your projects.