Physics Profile: Michele Kotiuga

Michele Kotiuga

Michele Kotiuga travels the world, takes to the rink and still finds time for the lab.

In the fall of her sophomore year, alum Michele began work in the Optical Characterization and Nanophotonics Laboratory under the direction of Professor Anna Swan, a joint faculty member in Physics and ECE, and a BU Physics alum. As a senior, Michele focused her studies on vibrational properties of carbon nanotubes.

Carbon nanotubes have a variety of practical applications, including field-effect transistors for nanoscale electronics, optical emission devices for plasma displays and electron microscopes and ultra-sensitive detectors for molecules. The tiny devices are hollow cylinders of a single sheet of graphite with diameters on the order of a nanometer and lengths that can extend to a centimeter. Nanotubes have the aspect ratio of a human hair extending across a room. Because nanotubes are extremely strong and can assume the properties of either a metal or a semiconductor, they can be used as metallic wires or semiconductors in the Lilliputian world of nanotechnology.

The results of Michele’s research will be analyzed to fine-tune the technology used to create and classify single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs). The growth of SWNTs creates nanotubes of a variety of different helicities (wrapping), leading to both metallic and semiconducting properties. Michele worked toward an efficient classification method, overcoming some of the growth limitations associated with SWNTs. And as a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, she plans to continue her studies in condensed matter physics.

When Michele pulls off the lab coat, she often pulls on her ice skates. As a member of the Boston University Figure Skating Club, she continues to pursue an interest she has held since age 9. She sees skating as a great way to relax, have fun, and do things she says she could never accomplish on dry ground.

She also adores traveling; she has traversed the terrain of several European countries, as well as American states from coast to coast. She especially enjoys devoting some of her summer to the Cape and to Maine. New adventures and old friends are two of her favorite things.