Reeja Jayan and her student Nathan Nakamura has made a breakthrough in our understanding of how microwaves affect materials chemistry. Unlike prior studies, which suffered from the inability to monitor structural changes while the microwaves were applied, Jayan developed novel tools (a custom-designed microwave reactor enabling in-situ synchrotron x-ray scattering) for studying these dynamic, field-driven changes in local atomic structure as they happen. By revealing the dynamics of how microwaves affect specific chemical bonds during the synthesis, Jayan is laying the groundwork for tailor-made ceramic materials with new electronic, thermal, and mechanical properties. Building on this concept, she is investigating how to use microwaves to engineer new materials.
The results of Jayan’s research were published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A. The paper was recognized as part of the 2020 Emerging Investigators Issue of the journal.