Chemistry fellow helps stabilize a new ultra-thin material Meet Dominic Goronzy

Chemistry fellow helps stabilize a new ultra-thin material

Dominic Goronzy has been examining the properties of the recently discovered material Borophene and its potential real-world applications. (Ky Lamarca, Northwestern University)

Both of Dominic Goronzy’s parents are research scientists, and he fondly remembers growing up around a laboratory watching them puzzle out solutions. His parents were his very first inspirations and mentors. As an adult, Goronzy received his doctoral degree in chemistry from the University of California-Los Angeles, but said he often reflects on how his path in science could have alternatively been in physics.

“I feel that those two versions of myself are more similar than dissimilar,” said Goronzy. “Because maybe it doesn’t matter precisely what question you are pursuing, but rather just being out there engaging with the unknown, or rather the not yet understood.”

After university, he was a fellow at the International Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern University, followed by his current fellowship with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program (IC Postdoc Program). The IC Postdoc Program offers scientists and engineers from a wide variety of disciplines unique opportunities to conduct research relevant to the Intelligence Community.

He joined his mentor, Mark Hersam, and the ultra-high vacuum (UHV) team in studying the chemical and physical properties of novel materials. Specifically, he is looking at ultra-thin materials, such as borophenes.

Borophenes are two-dimensional layers of the crystalline chemical boron and were only confirmed to exist in 2015. Ultimately, Goronzy is studying how to control and deploy their unique characteristics for advanced technology, such as optoelectronic devices. Optoelectronic devices convert electricity to light or vice versa, for example solar power panels.

Goronzy’s research typically consists of fabricating borophene using the UHV chamber to chemically react borophene with hydrogen to create a new material called borophane. Borophane is much more stable and degrades slower in real-world conditions outside of the UHV chamber. He believes that borophane has unique advantages compared to other ultra-thin materials currently in use. This research may improve optoelectronic devices by providing a new ultra-thin material in their manufacturing.

Chemistry fellow helps stabilize a new ultra-thin material

Pictured above: Goronzy looking through the ultra-high vacuum (UHV) chamber used to chemically react borophene to hydrogen. (Photo Credit: Shay Wallace, Northwestern University)

“I view my research in a similar vein as computer technology in the 1950s,” explained Goronzy. “Where one computer took up an entire room, and where the idea of a personal computer that you just have in your pocket was unimaginable. The research we are doing now is laying the building blocks for not only improving today’s technologies but developing the next generation of technologies for decades to come.”

Goronzy is assisting with several manuscripts to present the research and has attended workshops to network and hone his communication skills. The fellowship also contributes to increasing his familiarity with engineering in a research lab. Lastly, he credits his collaboration with other graduate students and his mentor Mark Hersam as being one of the reasons he has developed a more efficient research style.

When asked if he recommended the IC Postdoc program Goronzy said, “Absolutely. This program has enabled me to pursue research in my field of study that is of high interest to me, as well as enabled me to collaborate with many other fascinating scientists.”

Goronzy hopes to continue developing borophane for future use and plans to find a tenure-track faculty position where he will be able to lead his own research group after the fellowship ends.

The Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program is funded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and managed by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) under an agreement between the IC and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). ORISE is managed for DOE by ORAU.