Chemistry and Biochemistry

Finding the Gap in the Pattern

Posted: Feb 05, 2015

Jacob Schliesser, a graduate student from Vernal Utah, recently had an article published in Physical Review B.  

Physical Review B is often acknowledged as the best journal for condensed matter research. “It is definitely the best Journal I’ve published in so far,” said Schliesser. 

The article, “Lattice vacancies responsible for the linear dependence of the low-temperature heat capacity of insulating materials,” is actually Schliesser’s tenth paper to be accepted for publication. “I’ve been blessed with a lot of good collaborators,” he said of this success. Schliesser works in Dr. Woodfield’s lab measuring heat capacities of materials.

“Many functional materials are crystalline,” Schliesser explained. “Most crystals, if not all, have defects. Lattice vacancies, which are holes in the lattice where an atom would normally be, are common defects. These vacancies affect the properties of the material.” 

Though a structural hole seems like a negative thing, sometimes a lattice vacancy actually improves the material. In this case, Schliesser was able to link lattice vacancies to a desirable property in TiO2 nanoparticles doped with Al in a separate publication.

Schliesser received his undergraduate degrees in chemistry and physics from Utah State University in Logan. When it came time to apply for graduate school, he and his wife knew they didn’t want to leave Utah, and decided that BYU would be a good environment for their two daughters. Though adjusting to the unique BYU culture was difficult, Schliesser feels fortunate to have found a group that gives him such valuable opportunities and freedom in research. He started his graduate research on the synthesis of nanoparticles. However, he found that thermodynamics, which combines the studies of chemistry and physics, was more suited to his interests.

After he graduates from BYU, Schliesser hopes to find a job that allows him to continue his research on materials physics. “I’d like to work at a national lab,” he says, “and just devote myself to research.”

Read Schliesser’s article here.

Article by Jordan Wright

Photo Courtesy of Jacob Schliesser