Newsletter, February, 2013


    MIT Materials News that Matters

    February 2013
    MIT Dome
    News from the Materials Processing Center and MIT.
    Faculty Highlight: Professor Harry Tuller
    Characterizing photo-electrode materials for splitting water
    MIT Professor Harry L. Tuller

    Solid oxide fuel cells hold the promise of unleashing the hydrogen economy, but efficient ways to release hydrogen from water and store it for later use, remain a subject of laboratory investigations.
    MIT Professor Harry L. Tuller's Crystal Physics and Electroceramics Laboratory is working on oxide-based semiconductor materials that can act as photo-electrodes to fuel the process of splitting water molecules into their constituent hydrogen and oxygen atoms.The process is deceptively simple, says Tuller. Although water is a safe and non-toxic substance from which to produce energy, materials constantly immersed in water are subject to corrosion. "The concept is simple. Most of us remember the simple electrolysis cell from high school chemistry lab in which two metal electrodes, perhaps platinum, are inserted into a beaker of water, to which one applies a sufficiently high voltage to 'split' water. In a photo-electrolysis cell, we replace one of those electrodes with what's called a wide bandgap semiconductor. Read more
    Research advances
    Probing properties of better chemoresistive gas sensors  


    Research advances in gas sensor technologies promise the possibility of designing chemoresistive sensors with improved sensitivity, selectivity and response time, according to a recent article by MIT Professor of Ceramics and Electronic Materials Harry L. Tuller and co-authors, which surveys a decade of research into gas sensor materials. Chemoresistive devices represent a key area of Tuller's research. "Advances and new directions in gas-sensing devices," with co-authors Il-Doo Kim of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and, Avner Rothschild, of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, is published in the February 2013 "Diamond Jubilee Issue" of Acta Materialia, celebrating 60 years of publication.
    Obfuscation in glass
    Pangrams and Prince Rupert Drops

    Glass artisan Helen Lee embedded pangrams in this globe.


    Glass can serve as a window giving a clear view of the world or a mirror perfectly reflecting our own image. Introduce distortion to the glass and you can obscure that view of world or play with your image in the way of a fun house mirror. Artist Helen Lee's love of graphic design and glass, leads her to create glass vessels with embedded letters and words as design elements.


    During a recent stay as resident artist at the MIT Glass Lab, Lee explored the use of letters of alphabet embedded in glass cane as a design element for her blown glass globes. After making a full set of glass canes for each letter of the alphabet, Lee laid out pangrams - sentences using every letter of the alphabet - then fused them together. She also made vessels that revealed lowercase script letters when cut in half.

    Read more
    Materials Seminar
    Uncovering nanoscale dislocations
    Ian M. Robertson, dean of the College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison,

    Ian M. Robertson, dean of the College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, will deliver  the Materials Science and Engineering Seminar Series talk at MIT on April 18, 2013.


    Robertson will demonstrate the complexity of evolved microstructures under different loading conditions and environments, gaseous hydrogen environments as well as liquid metal. Read more



    In This Issue
    * Characterizing photo-electrode materials
    * Probing properties of chemoresistive gas sensors
    * Obfuscation in glass
    * Materials Seminar Opportunity
    * Forum on Materials for Sustainable Energy
    * The future of online education
    Quick Links

    Collegium and Advisory Board members have full access to videos of the Oct. 17, 2012, Materials Day presentations: "Materials for Energy Harvesting."

    Forum on Materials for Sustainable Energy
    March 4-5, 2013, open to the public


    Both German and American societies recognize the need for the development and deployment of sustainable energy systems. Materials research has an important role to play in this challenging endeavor, from the synthesis of efficient and inexpensive photovoltaic components, to fatigue life management of wind-powered turbines and development of substitute materials for "critical elements," such as the rare earths. This proposal aims to build a lasting collaboration on materials for sustainable energy between MIT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE) and the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen by Stuttgart (formerly the MPI for Metals Research).


    The main vehicle for initiating this large-scale collaboration will be a three-day Forum on Materials for Sustainable Energy to be held at MIT and attended by students, researchers, and faculty from both institutions. The intended outcome of the Forum is to identify potential synergies between groups with complementary research interests at both institutions and to lay the foundation for capitalizing on them by initiating a targeted, large-scale exchange of students and researchers. Read more


    The future of online education
    Six new institutions join edX

    edXThe following is adapted from a press release issued by edX.

    EdX, the not-for-profit online learning enterprise founded by MIT and Harvard University, announced today the addition of six new global higher-education institutions. 

    The Australian National University (ANU), Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, McGill University and the University of Toronto in Canada, and Rice University in the United States will use the edX platform to deliver the next generation of online and blended courses. This international expansion enables edX to better achieve its mission of providing world-class courses to everyone, everywhere, and is the natural next step to continue serving the large international student body already using edX on a daily basis.

    While MOOCs, or massive open online courses, have typically focused on offering a variety of online courses inexpensively or for free, edX is building an open-source educational platform and a network of the world's top universities to improve education both online and on campus while conducting research on how students learn. Read more
    Join the MPC Collegium
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    • Facilitation of on-campus meetings
    • Access to Collegium member only briefing materials
    • Representation on the MPC External Advisory Board
    • Customized research opportunity briefs
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    • Medium and long-term on-campus corporate staff visits
    For more information contact Mark Beals at 617-253-2129 or

    About MPC

    The goals of the Materials Processing Center are to unite the materials research community at MIT and to enhance Institute-industry interactions. Collaboration on research ventures, technology transfer, continuing education of industry personnel, and communication among industrial and governmental entities are our priorities. The MPC
    Industry Collegium is a major vehicle for this collaboration. The MPC sponsors seminars and workshops, as well as a summer internship for talented undergraduates from universities across the U.S. We encourage interdisciplinary research collaborations and provide funds management assistance to faculty.


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