Northwest Institute for Materials Physics, Chemistry, and Technology


UW leads new NSF Science and Technology Center on optoelectronic and quantum technologies

The new Center for Integration of Modern Optoelectronic Materials on Demand, (IMOD), funded by the National Science Foundation as a Science and Technology Center (STC), is led by UW's Prof David Ginger. The center comprises eleven academic institutions as well as several educational, commercial, and national laboratory organizations, including PNNL. The mission of IMOD is to "Transform conventional and quantum optoelectronics through the development of atomically-precise semiconductor materials and scalable manufacturing processes". UW Professors involved in IMOD also include Kai-Mei Fu, Brandi Cossairt, Devin MacKenzie, Arka Majumdar, and Daniel Gamelin. Ginger and Fu hold joint appointments with PNNL. Fu serves as IMOD's associate director of quantum workforce development.

PNNL's Marcel Baer wins DOE Early Career Award in Biomolecular Materials program

Marcel Baer's research will use computational methods to understand and design modular electron transfer building blocks that mimic natural modules comprising iron-sulfur clusters in peptide units. Synthetic sequence-defined polymers will be used in the design of these building blocks instead of natural peptides. Ultimately, these modules may be arranged into new stable materials that can control electron flow on the nanometer scale for energy technologies. His successful Early Career proposal was entitled "Computationally Driven Design and Synthesis for Electron Transfer Materials based on Non-natural Polymers". Unfunded collaborators Chunlong Chen and Jay Grate from PNNL will provide an experimental perspective on peptoids and triazine based polymers, respectively. These are both types of synthetic sequence defined polymers with peptide-mimetic characteristics and function. Read more about Marcel's interests in energy science at PNNL's Physical Sciences Division news site.

Magnetic skyrmions in monolayer CrI3

A theoretical study published in JACS Au shows how atomically precise chemical doping controls the magnitude and direction of magnetic skyrmions in CrI3 monolayers. The local concentration and arrangement of Cl impurities in these two-dimensional materials controls the skyrmionic states formed in applied electro-magnetic fields or in Janus-layer devices. These states are important for potential spintronics applications. The collaboration including UW Professors Xiaosong Li and Xiaodong Xu and along with PNNL staff scientist Peter Sushko was supported in part by seed project funding from NW IMPACT. In addition to providing an atomic-level insight that can be used to create and control complex magnetic patterns in monolayer CrI3, the work lays the foundation for investigating the field- and composition-dependent magnetic properties in other similar two-dimensional materials.

UW's Guomin Zhu Wins Materials Research Society Graduate Student Award

Research conducted by Dr. Guomin Zhu on interfacial controls on the nucleation and growth of mesocrystals and nanomaterials earned him a gold-level award from the Materials Research Society (MRS). The MRS Graduate Student Awards honor graduate students "whose academic achievements and current materials research display a high level of excellence and distinction." Experimental aspects of Zhu's graduate research were conducted at PNNL with support from DOE's Basic Energy Sciences programs.

UW and PNNL contribute materials science expertise to C2QA, a national Quantum Information Center

UW and PNNL are providing materials science expertise in the quantum properties of defects in crystals to the Co-design Center for Quantum Advantage, C2QA, led by Brookhaven National Laboratory. C2QA is one of five new National QIS Centers established by the U.S. Department of Energy. UW Professor Kai-Mei Fu, a joint appointment with PNNL associated with NW IMPACT, is contributing to the materials thrust in C2QA led by Nathalie de Leon at Princeton University, and collaborating with PNNL's Steven Spurgeon, Bethany Matthews, and Peter Sushko in a portion of this work. PNNL's Environmental Molecular Science Laboratory (EMSL) provides world-class imaging capabilities and the Shallow Underground Laboratory offers a unique low-background facility for materials and device environmental testing and production. The National QIS Research Centers will accelerate advances in materials science, physics, computing, and information technology to support the advancement of quantum information science. PNNL participates in three of them.

James De Yoreo wins prestigious U.S. Department of Energy Award

NW IMPACT founding co-director, James De Yoreo, has been named a 2020 Distinguished Scientist Fellow by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy, press release. This award recognizes and rewards "particularly eminent and accomplished" scientists with emphasis on "research through collaborations between institutions of higher education and national laboratories." Jim has been instrumental in establishing collaborative research between UW and PNNL, including the UW-led Center for the Science of Synthesis Across Scales (CSSAS), and the PNNL/UW NW IMPACT. Scientifically, the DOE recognized Jim for "transformational discoveries that have reshaped our understanding of materials synthesis." He will be awarded $1 million in funding from DOE to pursue further research of his own choosing.

NW IMPACT team leads new Energy Frontier Research Center

Funding to establish the Center for the Science of Synthesis Across Scales (CSSAS) was announced on June 29, 2018 by the U.S. Department of Energy. CSSAS, led by UW, is an Energy Frontier Research Center whose mission is to "harness the complex functionality of hierarchical materials by mastering the design of high-information-content macromolecular building blocks that predictively self-assemble into responsive, reconfigurable, self-healing materials, and direct the formation and organization of inorganic components." The Center is a close collaboration of UW, PNNL, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of California San Diego, and the University of Chicago. Francois Baneyx, Vice Provost for Innovation at UW, is the director of CSSAS.

The founding co-director of NW IMPACT, Jim De Yoreo, serves as the deputy director. The collaborative effort leading to CSSAS was enabled by NW IMPACT (UW press release), which funded an initial project on Engineering Sequence-Defined Polymers for Controlled Formation of Hybrid Materials. This collaborative project was led by Chun-Long Chen at PNNL and Francois Baneyx at UW.

Quantum Materials are the focus of a new Energy Frontier Research Center

Xiaodong Xu leads the UW contribution to a new Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) entitled Programmable Quantum Materials. The mission of this center, led by Columbia University, is "To discover, characterize, and deploy new forms of quantum matter controllable by gating, magnetic proximity and nano-mechanical manipulation." Xu is a joint appointee with UW and PNNL, and he is the UW principle investigator on a NW IMPACT funded project on New Quantum Phenomena by Combining 2D Materials with Complex Oxides. Scott Chambers is the PNNL lead on this project. Other UW NW IMPACT project members Daniel Gamelin, Jiun-Haw Chiu, David Cobden join Xu as researchers on the EFRC.

News from around the Pacific Northwest region

Department of Energy grant aims for more efficient CdTe photovoltaic materials
A team of researchers from Washington State University and National Renewable Energy Laboratory has received an award from the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) of the U.S. Department of Energy. The effort aims to improve the efficiency and reliability of cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin film photovoltaic technology, which has a low cost of manufacturing. If these CdTe materials can be made to perform according to their predicted maxima, they will become more competitive with conventional silicon solar cells. The research is led by John McCloy, professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and director of the Institute of Materials Research. McCloy also has a joint appointment with PNNL.

Shock compression synthesis produces measurably stronger hexagonal diamond material
Diamond crystals are among the hardest and most scratch-resistant natural materials in the world. Diamonds found in nature and used in jewelry have a cubic crystal structure. Using a shock compression technique in its Institute for Shock Physics Washington State University (WSU) scientists have made a hexagonal crystal form of diamond. This form of diamond was experimentally confirmed to be significantly stiffer and stronger than regular cubic structure diamond. The effort was led by Professor Yogendra Gupta, and published in Physical Review B.

Three-dimensional nanostructured alloy leads to more stable battery anodes
Researchers in the Oregon State University College of Engineering have developed a battery anode consisting of a Zn-Mn alloy with a three-dimensional structure resembling a forest of cauliflowers. This structure constrains the pathways and kinetics of zinc ions diffusing in an aqueous medium. These constraints suppressed the growth of dendrites, providing an anode with outstanding interfacial stability for energy storage applications. An in situ imaging method provided direct observations of the anode surface during charging and discharging operations. This work was published in nature communications.

WSU professors in materials science honored as 2020 Highly Cited Researchers
Two faculty in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, at Washington State University (WSU), Professor Yuehe Lin, and Research Professor Annie D. Du, were recognized as 2020 Highly Cited Researchers. These scientists perform research in biomaterials and nanomaterials, respectively. Du performed postdoctoral research in materials science at PNNL. Lin has a joint appointment with PNNL. Lin has also been recognized as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2019, and as a Fellow of the Electrochemical Society in 2020.

Oregon State, University of Washington receive another $5 million to advance nanotech innovation
The National Science Foundation has awarded an additional $5 million to Oregon State University and the University of Washington to continue leading a nanotechnology research partnership that's already enabled breakthroughs in areas such as better solar cells and improved battery electrodes. In 2015, the National Science Foundation awarded $4.5 million to OSU and the UW to create and lead the Northwest Nanotechnology Infrastructure partnership. The latest award funds the partnership for five more years and brings critical nanotechnology facilities and expertise to an array of audiences and users around the northwest. The research is focused on three principal areas: photonic and quantum devices; advanced energy materials and devices; and bio-nano interfaces and systems.

Crystal structure discovered almost 200 years ago could hold key to solar cell revolution
Solar energy researchers at Oregon State University are shining their scientific spotlight on materials with a perovskite crystal structure. John Labram of the OSU College of Engineering is the corresponding author on two recent papers on perovskite stability, in Communications Physics and the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, and also contributed to a paper published in Science. Labram's research group in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has built unique experimental apparatus to study changes in conductance of solar materials over time. Findings from these types of studies hold the key to improving the stability and commercial viability of perovskite solar cells.

PNNL to partner with University of Oregon on materials science and more
A new agreement between the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory aand the University of Oregon will allow scientists to obtain joint appointments that bridge the two research institutions. UO researchers will benefit from their exposure to the high-impact team research environment at PNNL, and UO's expertise in materials synthesis, electrocatalysis, green chemistry and other areas will help complement PNNL's strengths. The collaboration will help both institutions tackle challenges of global importance with an initial focus on materials that impact energy production, storage, environment, and national security.