Mingjian Wen receives a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship

Mingjian Wen, a Ph.D. candidate in the AEM department, was awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship for the 2017-2018 academic year from the University of Minnesota. The Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship gives the University’s most accomplished Ph.D. candidates the opportunity to devote full-time effort to writing and finalizing their dissertations during the fellowship year. Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Chris Cramer says receipt of a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship is an indication of superior performance in the coursework and research that have led up to the student’s proposal for the completion of their thesis, as well as ability to describe the importance of that research to the selection committee.”

Mingjian works with Professor Ellad Tadmor on developing interatomic potentials for 2D materials. He says, “2D materials are the thinnest known materials consisting of a two-dimensional sheet of atoms, which have remarkable mechanical, thermal, electronic, and optical properties with great potential for nanotechnology applications, such as novel semiconductors, ultrasensitive sensors, and medical devices.”

He continues, “Highly accurate molecular simulation techniques are required to better understand the basic science of 2D materials, systematically design new devices, and improve manufacturing processes. The key of molecular simulations are the interatomic potentials that describe the interactions of the atoms within and between the sheets. Using state-of-the-art data analytics, machine learning, and informatics, I am developing a fitting framework for automatically generating interatomic potentials for 2D materials.”

Mingjian’s framework has already produced two potentials: one for monolayer molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), and the other for multilayer graphene, which are more accurate than past potentials according to tests that have been conducted. The frameworks that Mingjian has developed will be open source; “Other researchers can use it freely, and hopefully it may facilitate their work in developing more accurate and transferable interatomic particles,” he says.

Mingjian obtained a Bachelor’s degree from Tianjin University, China in 2012. After graduation, he worked in Professor Xu-Chen’s lab for one year, then came to the University of Minnesota to pursue his Ph.D.┬áHe says his experience at AEM has been great so far; “The courses within the department emphasize a lot on fundamentals, which helps me to master the essential basics for doing my research. I have benefited a lot by taking courses from the faculty and holding discussions with my colleagues. The suggestions and advice I have received from them are incredibly valuable for me in doing research.”

He ended by saying, “I will definitely benefit a lot in my future work from the study and research experience I have had here in the AEM department.”

The department wishes Mingjian the best of luck as he continues to pursue his Ph.D.