Women faculty across the College of Science and Engineering are doing exciting research..........
Department of Physics - Faculty Research
Our research group focuses on the nanofabrication of devices and measurement of their electronic and magnetic properties at low temperatures. We are actively using the Analysis Research Service Center, the Advanced Functional Materials Lab and the Nano-fabrication Facility.
My research area is physics education (PER). My primary current research is on development and negotiation of identity in the context of the Learning Assistant program. Identity development is a relatively new area of research in PER, and shows promise for understanding recruitment and retention of students from traditionally marginalized groups. My work draws on Communities of Practice theory and Hazari et al.’s Physics Identity framework to analyze both LAs’ self-concepts (expressed in interviews and written reflections) and their evolving practices (including video data of LA preparation sessions). I also study the impact of instructional reforms on students and faculty, including research on implementation and analysis of assessments.
Dr. Scolfaro’s research interests are focused on the study of the physical properties of materials through computational simulations, either using first principles methods within the density functional theory (DFT) or approximated methods within the effective mass theory, with emphasis on semiconductors and oxides.
Today, Dr. Scolfaro’s research activities involve the study of mechanical, structural, electronic, optical and vibrational properties of SnO2, HfO2, ZrO2, TiO2, SrTiO3, magnetic impurities, Transition metals, Lead Chalcogenides and their alloys, semiconductor heterostructures of group-III nitrides, II-VIs, III-Vs, diluted magnetic semiconductors and oxides, and transport properties of semiconductors and semiconductor nanostructures. Her theoretical research is mostly addressed toward materials for thermoelectric applications, energy harvesting devices, solar cells, etc.
The computational modeling approaches adopted by Dr. Scolfaro are ab intio (first principles) state-of-art methods such the “Projected Augmented Wave” method as implemented in the “Vienna Ab-initio Simulation Package” (VASP-PAW), the Full-potential Linear Augmented Plane Wave method (FLAPW-wien2k) and the Abinit method. She also addresses the electronic and hole-band structures in heterostructures (low-dimensional systems) using a self-consistent k.p method in the effective mass approximation.
Among her objectives are: 1) theoretical understanding of new materials, 2) physical properties, chemical trends, band-gap engineering, 3) calculation of formation energies and stability of impurities and defects in semiconductors and oxides, 4) search for mechanical and thermoelectric enhanced properties for energy applications.