Rising Stars Colloquium: Kayla Nguyen
New Direct Electron Imaging Techniques for Quantum Materials
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Research Abstract: Electron microscopy is transforming the physical sciences. Aided by a new generation of direct imaging detectors, cryo-electron microscopy won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for advancements in visualization of biomolecules. To go beyond traditional electron microscopy, new detectors must also be developed for the diffraction imaging; here, the scattered electron beam encodes a wealth of information about the structure, chemistry, electrical, optical, and magnetic properties of matter. During my PhD, I co-invented the electron microscopy pixel array detector (EMPAD), a fast, highly efficient detector designed to capture the full scattered electron information. The EMPAD has been licensed to Thermo Fisher Scientific and sold around the world. In my talk, I will highlight how the EMPAD enables new characterization techniques for imaging topological magnetic and ferroelectric structures. These approaches can be used to uncover polarization fields, orbital angular momentum and chirality of polar and magnetic textures. By developing new characterization methods in combination with theoretical predictions, new physics in emerging quantum materials can be revealed with electron microscopy at atomic resolution.
Bio: Kayla Nguyen is currently an Illinois Distinguished Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a 2020 L’Oréal For Women in Science Postdoctoral Fellow. Kayla received her PhD from Cornell University, where she won the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for her contributions as co-inventor of the EMPAD. Kayla now focuses her time developing new electron microscopy techniques with an emphasis on pushing imaging resolution of magnetic structures and organic molecules using ptychography. In addition to her role as a scientist, she is extremely passionate about building a more diverse and inclusive environment in STEM. In particular, she has been involved in building accessible pathways for girls and young women to enter the STEM fields.