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MSE Faculty Receive Two NSF DMREF Grants
Administered by the NSF, DMREF grants support activities that significantly accelerate materials discovery and/or development by building the fundamental knowledge base needed to design and make materials and/or devices with specific and desired functions or properties. This is accomplished through interdisciplinary teams of researchers working synergistically in a "closed loop" fashion, building a vibrant research community, leveraging data science, providing ready access to materials data, and educating the future MGI workforce. Specifically, achieving this goal will involve modeling, analysis, and computational simulations, validated and verified through sample preparation, characterization, and/or device demonstration.
Most recently, MSE Assistant Professor Mark Losego received a $1.7 million “Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future” (DMREF) grant to develop much cheaper ways to separate chemicals using membranes that could potentially replace energy-intensive distillation processes.
According to Losego, principal investigator for the project, “Membranes have the potential to reduce energy consumption in chemical separation processes by as much as 90%. But most of today’s mass-manufactured membrane materials degrade under the chemical conditions required for many important chemical separations.”
Recently, Losego’s research team in collaboration with Ryan Lively, an associate professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and co-PI on the project, described a new process for taking a polymer-based membrane and infusing it with a metal oxide network. The resulting membrane is far more effective at standing up to harsh chemicals without degrading.
The new grant will enable researchers to use computer simulations and data analytics, led by Rampi Ramprasad, professor in MSE and another co-P.I., to speed up the process of finding new ways to infuse inorganic materials into polymer-based membranes, with the goal of developing a range of new membranes that can be used for a variety of separation tasks. Atomic simulations and data-driven methods such as machine learning can significantly accelerate the design and discovery of new application specific materials.
MSE Professor Natalie Stingelin is leading another $1.5 million DMREF grant “Metallic-type transport in polymers: Establishing materials design criteria and predicting structure/property interrelations.” This grant aims to design a framework to provide quantitative insights into what determines charge transport properties in organic semiconductors, and provide verifiable hypotheses towards accelerated materials discovery.
To-date there exist only a few reliable design guidelines to induce very high conductivity in readily processable ‘plastic’ conductors, even after the past forty years of work in this area. Critical properties of organic conductors can depend subtly on chemical structure and processing conditions and, often, changes in properties and processing parameters are intertwined in non-obvious ways. This makes it a daunting task to establish comprehensive structure/processing/property interrelations, often reducing materials discovery to heuristic time-consuming, expensive studies.
An interdisciplinary team consisting of MSE faculty Natalie Stingelin (P.I.) and co-P.I.s Seth Marder and Carlos Silva from the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Rampi Ramprasad from the School of Materials Science and Engineering are addressing fundamental questions of how charge-carrier coherence length and transport properties correlate with specific structural features in doped organic materials.