Much of modern life relies on synthetic materials.
The technology we use every day, like computers and cell phones, contain materials developed through lab research.
Dr. Tiglet Besara, assistant professor of physics, is among those leading materials research at Missouri State.
His work helps ensure materials develop and advance as needed to keep up with our ever-changing world and the technology that runs it.
About his research
Besara grows crystals of new materials and explores their properties.
Part of his research relates to finding new thermoelectrics.
These materials can capture and reuse the heat lost when converting to energy.
“Technology loses energy in the form of heat, like through electronics in our computers when they warm up,” Besara said. “Such a waste of heat is the biggest waste of electricity generation in this country and all over the world.”
Besara does not focus solely on protecting the heat materials produce.
He also strives to improve the performance of conducting materials.
Besara does this by growing topological materials, which conduct electricity along the materials’ surfaces.
“These materials conduct electricity much better and faster at small scales and could lead to use of smaller circuits,” Besara said.
The reach of Besara’s work is no small matter, even if it is dependent on combining atoms.
“We discover something new, a combination of atoms that did not exist before,” Besara said. “We make materials from scratch.”
Besara stresses that materials research has potential for long term growth.
“The field will not diminish as there’s always a need to discover new materials or make the current ones more efficient,” Besara said.
Collaborating to reach results
Student researchers at Missouri State often grow materials under Besara’s supervision.
Sometimes, they encounter unknown properties.
Besara then works with other labs across the country that have equipment for testing.
His research also stretches across disciplines. He shares his university lab space with a professor from the chemistry department.
Besara anticipates that the shared space will foster greater collaboration between the disciplines.
“The process of growing and making materials falls into a gray area between chemistry and physics,” Besara said. “Uniting the disciplines’ expertise can lead to greater scientific understanding and success.”