Two Henry Samueli School of Engineering scientists win DOE early career awards

Irvine, Calif., May 27, 2021 — The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science has awarded funding to two University of California, Irvine scientists under its DOE Early Career Research Program. Mohammad Abdolhosseini Qomi, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Penghui Cao, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, were among 83 researchers selected from university and national laboratory applicants to receive the research awards.

Clingy Copper Ions Contribute to Catalyst Slowdown

PNNL scientists, working with researchers at Washington State University and Tsinghua University, discovered a mechanism behind the decline in performance of an advanced copper-based catalyst. The team’s findings, featured on the cover of the journal ACS Catalysis, could aid the design of catalysts that work better and last longer during the NOx conversion process.

ORNL’s Sergei Kalinin elected Fellow of the Microscopy Society of America

Sergei Kalinin, a scientist and inventor at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has been elected a Fellow of the Microscopy Society of America professional society.

A silver lining for extreme electronics

Tomorrow’s cutting-edge technology will need electronics that can tolerate extreme conditions. That’s why a group of researchers led by Michigan State University’s Jason Nicholas is building stronger circuits today. Nicholas and his team have developed more heat resilient silver circuitry with an assist from nickel. The team described the work, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Program, on April 15 in the journal Scripta Materialia. The types of devices that the MSU team is working to benefit — next-generation fuel cells, high-temperature semiconductors and solid oxide electrolysis cells — could have applications in the auto, energy and aerospace industries.

The Future Looks Bright for Infinitely Recyclable Plastic

Plastics are ubiquitous, but they’re not practical. Less than 10% are recycled, and the other ~8 billion tons are creating a pollution crisis. A Berkeley Lab team is determined to change that. A new analysis shows producing and recycling their game-changing new plastic could be easy and cheap enough to leave old plastics in the dust.

This hydrogen fuel machine could be the ultimate guide to self improvement

Scientists at Berkeley have uncovered an extraordinary self-improving property that transforms an ordinary semiconductor into a highly efficient and stable artificial photosynthesis device

April Snapshots

Science Snapshots from Berkeley Lab: X-rays accelerate battery R&D; infrared microscopy goes off grid; substrates support 2D tech

Game on: Science Edition

UPTON, NY — Inspired by the mastery of artificial intelligence (AI) over games like Go and Super Mario, scientists at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) trained an AI agent — an autonomous computational program that observes and acts — how to conduct research experiments at superhuman levels by using the same approach. The Brookhaven team published their findings in the journal Machine Learning: Science and Technology and implemented the AI agent as part of the research capabilities at NSLS-II.

Revealing Nano Big Bang – Scientists Observe the First Milliseconds of Crystal Formation

At Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, scientists recruited a world-leading microscope to capture atomic-resolution, high-speed images of gold atoms self-organizing, falling apart, and then reorganizing many times before settling into a stable, ordered crystal.

Even Superalloys Get Creeped Out From Stress

Researchers design superalloys by embedding particles in a metal matrix. The particles and matrix can deform differently under stress, causing components to fail. Researchers used neutrons to probe the internal stresses in two superalloys at high temperatures and loads to obtain new insights on deformation and validate mathematical models. This will lead to components with longer life and higher reliability.

Science Snapshots: COVID-19, power outages, Alzheimer’s disease, and optical antennas

March Science Snapshots from Berkeley Lab

Tracking melting points above 4000 degrees Celsius

A materials engineer at the University of California San Diego is leading the development of a new research platform for studying high-performance materials, in particular new materials that melt above 4000 degrees Celsius (C). UC San Diego nanoengineering professor Kenneth Vecchio is leading the project, which is funded by a new $800,000 grant from the US Office of Naval Research (ONR), through the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP).

In New Step Towards Autonomous Materials, Researchers Design Patterns in Self-propelling Liquid Crystals

Imagine a capsule implanted in your body that automatically releases antibodies in response to a virus, or clothing that senses and captures contaminants from the air.

PME researchers have taken a step toward developing such autonomous materials by creating self-propelling liquid crystals and patterning their activity to control the movements of defects within the crystals.

Designing Materials from First Principles with Yuan Ping

The UC Santa Cruz professor uses computing resources at Brookhaven Lab’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials to run calculations for quantum information science, spintronics, and energy research.

Fluorescent Metal Organic Frameworks Go Dark to Detect Explosives

Scientists recently investigated the factors that control fluorescent light signals from metal organic frameworks (MOFs). The light may turn on due to structural changes in the MOF and turn off due to reorganization of the electrons in the MOF. Understanding these factors advances researchers’ ability to design and use MOFs as chemical sensors.

ORNL receives three 2021 FLC Awards for technology transfer

Three technologies developed by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have won National Technology Transfer Awards from the Federal Laboratory Consortium. The annual FLC Awards recognize significant accomplishments in transferring federal laboratory technologies to the marketplace.

The strategic position: How molecules sit on surfaces drives energy and electron transfer

Florida State University researchers seeking to make newer, more energy efficient materials have made a breakthrough in understanding how structure dictates electron transfer across surfaces. It all has to do with how the molecules are positioned. Ken Hanson, associate professor of chemistry, and his colleagues found that the way molecules assemble on an inorganic material plays a key role in how energy and electrical current move across these interfaces, thus driving the functionality.

$500,000 grant funds creation of institute to advance AI for materials science

Funds from an NSF $500,000 grant will be used to bring together an interdisciplinary team of researchers with complementary expertise in artificial intelligence (AI) and material science to lay the groundwork for an AI-Enabled Materials Discovery, Design, and Synthesis (AIMS) Institute.

Squeezing a rock-star material could make it stable enough for solar cells

A promising lead halide perovskite is great at converting sunlight to electricity, but it breaks down at room temperature. Now scientists have discovered how to stabilize it with pressure from a diamond anvil cell. The required pressure is well within the reach of today’s manufacturing processes.

Shine On: Avalanching Nanoparticles Break Barriers to Imaging Cells in Real Time

A team of researchers co-led by Berkeley Lab and Columbia University has developed a new material called avalanching nanoparticles that, when used as a microscopic probe, offers a simpler approach to taking high-resolution, real-time snapshots of a cell’s inner workings at the nanoscale.

Study shows tweaking one layer of atoms on a catalyst’s surface can make it work better

When an LNO catalyst with a nickel-rich surface carries out a water-splitting reaction, its surface atoms rearrange from a cubic to a hexagonal pattern and its efficiency doubles. Deliberately engineering the surface to take advantage of this phenomenon offers a way to design better catalysts.

Scientists look to meteorites for inspiration to achieve critical element-free permanent magnet

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Critical Materials Institute has developed a low-cost, high performance permanent magnet by drawing inspiration from an out-of-this-world source: iron-nickel alloys in meteorites. The magnet rivals widely used “Alnico” magnets in magnetic strength and has the potential to fill a strong demand for rare-earth- and cobalt-free magnets in the market.

This Anti-COVID Mask Breaks the Mold

To address PPE shortages during the pandemic, scientists at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley are developing a rechargeable, reusable, anti-COVID N95 mask and a 3D-printable silicon-cast mask mold.

New Platform Generates Hybrid Light-Matter Excitations in Highly Charged Graphene

Columbia University researchers report that they have achieved plasmonically active graphene with record-high charge density without an external gate. They accomplished this by exploiting novel interlayer charge transfer with a two-dimensional electron-acceptor known as -RuCl3. “This work allows us to use graphene as a plasmonic material without metal gates or voltage sources, making it possible to create stand-alone graphene plasmonic structures for the first time,” said Mechanical Engineering Prof. James Hone.

Technion Harvey Prize Honors Pioneers in Chemical Engineering and Medical Sciences

The prestigious prize for 2019-2020 goes to Professor Joseph DeSimone of Stanford University for significant contributions to materials science, chemistry, polymer science nano medicine, and 3D printing; and to Professor Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for the discovery of the active molecules in cannabis

Exploring Blended Materials Along Compositional Gradients

A new platform could accelerate the development of blended materials with desired properties.

Seeking the Most Effective Polymers for Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment, like face masks and gowns, is generally made of polymers. But not much attention is typically given to the selection of polymers used beyond their physical properties. To help with the identification of materials that will bind to a virus and speed its inactivation for use in PPE, researchers have developed a high-throughput approach for analyzing the interactions between materials and viruslike particles. They report their method in the journal Biointerphases.