Isha Dube attended the University of Lucknow, in India, where she received a B.S. and an M.S. in Physics. She was drawn to Georgetown by Professor Paranjape’s work with Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems, or MEMS.
“I was doing a study on this for my Master’s,” Isha explains. “I wanted to continue in the same field.”
The one-year industrial internship was also part of Georgetown’s appeal, and when Isha entered the Ph.D. program in the fall of 2007, she decided to pursue the Industrial Leadership in Physics track.
Isha chose an internship at Procter & Gamble, in Cincinnati. She worked in the Micro Fluidics group studying about detergents and how well they dissolved in water. Most of her work was focused on studying the phase transitions taking place during the dissolution process of surfactants, which are the raw materials for making soaps. Although the topic is completely unrelated to her thesis research work at Georgetown, the experience was more than valuable.
“I will definitely cherish the experience of working in an industrial research environment,” Isha says. “Industrial research is very eye-opening.”
Isha returned to Georgetown after finishing her apprenticeship at Procter & Gamble and began thesis research under the guidance of Professor Paranjape and Professor Barbara.
Her research involves fabricating individual carbon nanotube (CNT) based field effect transistors (FETs), and studying their response towards various environmental gases, such as nitrogen dioxide, ammonia, and hydrogen.
She comments that the existing research has focused on empirically determining the response of CNTFETs towards various gases through a modification of the configuration of the CNTFET, such as using individual CNTs or networks of CNTs, using different metals for electrodes, and depositing nanoparticles of metal or polymer or oxide layers on the nanotube.
However, the possible mechanism of gas detection has not been researched as extensively. The intuitive and widely accepted explanation is that molecules bind to the surface of the nanotube and charge transfer occurs between the nanotube and the molecules. A second possibility is a change in the Schottky barrier at the interface between the nanotube and metal.
Prior experimental work by Prof. Barbara’s group has confirmed that the change in the Schottky barrier is the basis for gas detection, but a greater understanding of how ambient gases modify the Schottky barrier is still needed. Isha’s thesis research revolves around performing a systematic study on the interplay between the metal-nanotube junction and gases to establish the underlying detection mechanism of gas sensing in the CNTFETs.
Isha has a few more years to complete her thesis, and she’s still contemplating whether to pursue academia or the industrial route at this point. Both options have their own merits and demerits.
“If I get an opportunity to work in an industrial set-up, I will definitely consider it,” Isha says. “Although, working in academia gives you freedom of thought.”
Isha is active in a charity to support impoverished girls in India. She recently ran in the Baltimore Marathon to raise money for the charity. Isha also sings and plays the guitar. She has performed at the Library of Congress and the Gandhi Memorial Center, in Northwest D.C.