Student Highlight: Mukesh Tumbapo and Matthew Henry

Two Engineering Physics Master’s Recipients Present Research on Phosphorene and Silicene:

Mukesh Tumbapo and Matthew Henry both completed Master’s degrees in Engineering – Physics last December. Their research was conducted under the direction of UCO Associate Professor Dr. Benjamin Tayo. Ever since the isolation and controlled exploration of the two-dimensional (2D) crystal graphene was made possible (leading to the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010), the scientific community has taken great interest in the possibilities graphene offers for new approaches to DNA sequencing. Despite several major advances, sequencing DNA using graphene has not yet been demonstrated. One of the major hindrances is the hydrophobic nature of graphene’s surface which causes DNA bases to stick to its surface. Matthew and Mukesh have demonstrated, using computational studies, that phosphorene and silicene are promising alternatives to graphene.

Binding energy (in electron-volt) for GNP, PNP, and SNP.

The above figure from their work shows that binding energies of the 4 DNA bases Guanine (G), Adenine (A), Cytosine (C), and Thymine (T) for interaction with graphene nanopore (GNP) are much higher than those for phosphorene nanopore (PNP) and silicene nanopore (SNP). This shows a minimal tendency for bases to stick on phosphorene and silicene, compared to graphene.  Hence the problem of DNA bases sticking to graphene’s surface is not expected for phosphorene and silicone. These results were presented at three national conferences and at two regional conferences, and are also the subject of a manuscript that has been accepted for publication in the journal AIP Advances.

Matthew accepted a position as a Systems Engineer at Boeing, and Mukesh is considering whether to move into the industry or continue his studies in pursuit of a doctorate.

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