The Department of Energy has named Nathalie de Leon, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, as a recipient of a 2018 Early Career Research Program award.

De Leon received a $750,000, five-year grant to explore the properties of specialized diamond surfaces, which hold promise for applications in computing, electronics and medicine. Her research group has overcome a number of technical challenges to create extremely smooth, stable diamond surfaces with unique capabilities. Targeted changes to these surfaces result in useful properties for quantum communication and for imaging single molecules.

This expertise is a starting point for “fundamental studies of the reactivity, the dynamics and the kinetics of diamond surfaces” that were previously not possible, said de Leon. Developing and characterizing a few types of usable surfaces, she added, “could potentially have impact on a large number of fields.”

De Leon, who joined the Princeton faculty in 2016, is one of 84 scientists selected for the Department of Energy’s Early Career Research awards this year. She holds a doctoral degree in chemical physics from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.


  • Nathalie de Leon

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