Awardee Interviews | Biography: Mohan Sankaran

Mohan Sankaran

Mohan SankaranMohan Sankaran is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). He joined CWRU in January 2005 after his post doctoral research in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) where he also obtained his Ph.D. with Prof. Konstantinos P. Giapis in 2004. Mohan completed his B.S. in Chemical Engineering at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1998.

Mohan began his research career at UCLA working with Prof. Harold G. Monbouquette and Prof. Brian A. Korgel (now at the University of Texas at Austin) on the synthesis of doped cadmium sulfide nanocrystals using phospholipid vesicles as nanoreactors. As a Ph.D. student at Caltech, Mohan received fellowships from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Intel, and Applied Materials, and the Constantin G. Economou Prize which is awarded to the top Ph.D. candidate in Chemical Engineering. Mohan’s Ph.D. research explored a new class of high-pressure plasmas, termed microplasmas, for materials processing. He designed and later patented a microplasma technology that allows a plasma to be stably formed at atmospheric pressure and near room temperature. Through his studies, microplasmas were found to be a convenient source of electrons, ions, and radical species and implemented in various applications including non-lithographic etching of silicon, deposition of diamond films, and extreme ultraviolet radiation. Additionally, in collaboration with Prof. Richard P. Flagan, Mohan demonstrated that microplasmas could be used as short residence time reactors to synthesize photoluminescent silicon nanoparticles.

In 2005, Mohan joined CWRU to start an independent research program focused on microplasmas for nanomaterials synthesis and assembly. His group is particularly interested in the synthesis of metal and semiconducting nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, semiconducting nanowires, and graphene, for applications in electronics, optics, and renewable energy. Mohan’s research addresses challenges related to polydispersity, purity, cost, scalability, and device integration of nanomaterials. He has successfully shown that size- and compositionally-tuned bimetallic nanocatalysts can be prepared by microplasma-assisted dissociation of vapor precursors. This has allowed chirally-enriched single-walled carbon nanotubes to be produced and provided insight into the mechanism for nanotube nucleation. Recently, Mohan has developed an electrochemical process based on microplasmas as an electron source for cathodic reduction. These studies have opened up an entirely new approach to nanomaterial synthesis and enabled the fabrication of patterned and/or assembled films of nanomaterials.
Mohan has been recognized for his research activities with the NSF CAREER Award in 2008, the Air Force Young Investigator Program Award in 2009, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award in 2010, and the CWRU School of Engineering Research Award in 2010. He is the author of 22 peer-reviewed publications, 1 book chapter, and the editor of a book currently in press, and has given 38 invited talks at conferences and universities.

Mohan has also received the Glennan and Learning Fellowships at CWRU for teaching and is actively involved in several outreach activities. He has created a new course in nano-technology for high school students at Hathaway Brown in Shaker Heights, OH, and mentors several high school students each summer from Hathaway Brown High School and Hawken High School in Gates Mills, OH. He has helped establish an international program with the University of Botswana, which includes an NSF-funded international research experience and a study abroad course for undergraduate students. Within AVS, Mohan is currently serving as a member of the Executive Committee in the Plasma Science and Technology Division.