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Brandon Winters

Job Title

  • Assistant Professor of Chemistry
    Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences

Highlight

Dr. Winters' research is currently focused on the chemistry of carbon. Carbon has more known allotropes than any other material with a new one having been discovered as recently as 2015. While many of these allotropes have existed naturally for thousands of years it was not until 2004 that one particularly fascinating one, graphene, was discovered and characterized. This form of carbon is the first 2D material ever discovered and is made up of a single atomic-thin layer of carbons bonded together in rings of six. This structure gives graphene some remarkable properties including very low electrical resistance and fast electron transport (near the speed of light), incredible flexibility, and great puncture resistance. While it has been very difficult and expensive to produce graphene films, there are other similar materials that have the potential to demonstrate reduced, but still impressive properties, including partially oxidized graphene: graphene oxide. While the oxygen included in the structure of graphene oxide does change its properties relative to pure graphene, it is much easier and cheaper to make. Dr Winters has focused his research on designing and fabricating a deposition chamber capable of growing graphene oxide thin-films under controlled conditions with the hopes of optimizing production of these materials and others for desired film characteristics. Ultimately the materials made in the Winters lab could be used for novel electronic devices and novel manufacturing methods, but the full extent of these applications remains to be seen. Current work is focussed on optimization of growth parameters and characterization of new films and their properties. In addition to independent work on carbon materials, Dr Winters has been involved as an independent consultant to several companies seeking help understanding the complex properties and behaviors of chemical sorbent materials including activated carbon. This work has focused on development of new manufacturing processes, investigation of specific adsorbate capture efficiencies, and studies of the fundamental properties of sorbent materials. This work has served as a means to get student researchers involved in current, cutting-edge, research activities, which are most often paid research internships. One final area of ongoing interest for Dr Winters is the design and use of chemical instrumentation. His passion for instrumentation comes out in the course Analytical Chemistry II: Instrumental Analysis along with his continued work to bring new and interesting instruments to Bethel University. Dr Winters can be seen outside of his natural habitat in the Chemistry department using instruments at the University of Minnesota's Characterization Facility on a semi-routine basis and enjoys sharing these experiences with students.

Started at Bethel

2011

Education

  • University of Minnesota, Morris - B.A., 2004
  • University of Minnesota - M.S., 2008
  • University of Minnesota - Ph.D., 2011

Biography

I grew up in central Minnesota on a small farm and enjoyed the benefit of a great background in math and science. I enjoyed participating in all manner of extra curricular activities including cross country, theatre, math league, and FFA. These experiences prepared me to attend college at the University of Minnesota - Morris where I began growing in my faith apart from the significant guidance I received from my parents. After completing all of the required chemistry courses for my Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry degree in three years, I enrolled in a small private Bible college in La Merced, Ecuador for my fourth year of college as a first step in discerning God's call on my life. I was blessed to have my then fiancé, Katie, join me in Ecuador for several months and we were married the following summer. Since college, I have worked as a Senior Lab Technician for EcoLab, a residential job-site supervisor, and attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. In addition to completing my Ph.D. in Chemistry, my wife and I have been blessed with three wonderful children and we currently live in Stillwater, MN were we attend and are involved in our church, CrossWinds Community Church.

Courses Taught

  • Modern Alchemy
  • General Chemistry I and II
  • Analytical Chemistry I and II

Research interests

Dr. Winters' research is currently focused on the chemistry of carbon. Carbon has more known allotropes than any other material with a new one having been discovered as recently as 2015. While many of these allotropes have existed naturally for thousands of years it was not until 2004 that one particularly fascinating one, graphene, was discovered and characterized. This form of carbon is the first 2D material ever discovered and is made up of a single atomic-thin layer of carbons bonded together in rings of six. This structure gives graphene some remarkable properties including very low electrical resistance and fast electron transport (near the speed of light), incredible flexibility, and great puncture resistance. While it has been very difficult and expensive to produce graphene films, there are other similar materials that have the potential to demonstrate reduced, but still impressive properties, including partially oxidized graphene: graphene oxide. While the oxygen included in the structure of graphene oxide does change its properties relative to pure graphene, it is much easier and cheaper to make. Dr Winters has focused his research on designing and fabricating a deposition chamber capable of growing graphene oxide thin-films under controlled conditions with the hopes of optimizing production of these materials and others for desired film characteristics. Ultimately the materials made in the Winters lab could be used for novel electronic devices and novel manufacturing methods, but the full extent of these applications remains to be seen. Current work is focussed on optimization of growth parameters and characterization of new films and their properties. In addition to independent work on carbon materials, Dr Winters has been involved as an independent consultant to several companies seeking help understanding the complex properties and behaviors of chemical sorbent materials including activated carbon. This work has focused on development of new manufacturing processes, investigation of specific adsorbate capture efficiencies, and studies of the fundamental properties of sorbent materials. This work has served as a means to get student researchers involved in current, cutting-edge, research activities, which are most often paid research internships. One final area of ongoing interest for Dr Winters is the design and use of chemical instrumentation. His passion for instrumentation comes out in the course Analytical Chemistry II: Instrumental Analysis along with his continued work to bring new and interesting instruments to Bethel University. Dr Winters can be seen outside of his natural habitat in the Chemistry department using instruments at the University of Minnesota's Characterization Facility on a semi-routine basis and enjoys sharing these experiences with students.

Quote

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)