Ray Hickey ’14 understands the versatility of glass: He spent the summer at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India, in a research internship sponsored by Lehigh’s NSF-backed International Materials Institute for New Functionality in Glass (IMI-NFG). For Hickey, a materials science and engineering major, the internship also underscored the importance of his field.
Most glasses are oxide-based, meaning they are made from sand combined with oxides. However, Chalcogenide glass is a non-oxide glass in which oxygen is replaced by another element, like selenium or sulfur. Hickey works with Chalcogenide glass idue to its sensitivity to both light and electricity.
In India, Hickey studied phase-change materials, which can be switched in a nanosecond back and forth between amorphous and crystalline states using an electrical field.. These phase-changing materials may possess higher storage capacities than traditional memory materials, and could improve mobile phone battery lives, as well.
"I actually chose Lehigh because of the materials science department here," he said. "I knew that I wanted to do some sort of science or engineering, and MSE is a perfect marriage of both. It deals with very fundamental aspects of matter but is grounded in technological applications as opposed to being overwhelmingly theoretical."