McMorran wins Department of Energy early career award

University of Oregon physicist Benjamin J. McMorran is among 65 recipients of 2013 early career research awards from the U.S. Department of Energy. His research proposal was among 770 submitted for the highly competitive award by U.S. scientists who are less than 10 years into their careers.

McMorran, an assistant professor who joined the UO Department of Physics, Materials Science Institute and Oregon Center for Optics in 2011, is hoping to expand the capabilities of electron microscopy by incorporating specialized electron vortex beams. The approach, he says, should help better visualize, at atomic resolutions, targeted properties in magnetic materials, complex oxides and carbon-based matter.

"We are making nanoscale electron holograms that will allow us to engineer the properties of a beam of free electrons," said McMorran, who earned his doctorate in physics in 2009 from the University of Arizona. "This is a new technology in itself, and we will be using CAMCOR facilities to fabricate and test these devices."

CAMCOR is comprehensive materials characterization center housed based in the UO's Lorry I. Lokey Laboratories.

His idea to experiment with electron vortex beams in electron microscopy surfaced while he was a postdoctoral researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology prior to joining the UO faculty.

McMorran, who earned bachelor's degrees in physics and engineering physics in 2000 from Oregon State University, will receive $750,000 over five years from the Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Sciences to pursue his proposal.

The award is administered by the DOE's Early Career Research Program and is available only to young scientists employed by either a U.S. academic institution or a DOE national laboratory.