Newsletter, January 2015

     
    MIT Materials News that Matters
    January 2015
     
     
    Materials Processing Center at MIT MIT Dome
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    Summer Scholars Application Deadline Nears
     
    2014 Summer Scholar Eric Bailey.
    2014 Summer Scholar Eric Bailey.

    Over the past two years, Summer Scholars have synthesized lead sulfide quantum dots for solar cells; built thin film batteries with an electron sputtering machine; and produced implantable magnetic nanoparticles on a Schlenk line apparatus.

    The Materials Processing Center and the Center for Materials Science and Engineering host annually about 15 undergraduates from around the U.S. and Puerto Rico for a nine-week research internship program with NSF REU support. This year's Summer Scholars program will run from June 8 to August 8, 2015.

    The application deadline is February 13, 2015. Read more. 

    Designing Thin Film Rechargeable Battteries
    Synthesizing Organometal Halide Perovskites
     
    Faculty Highlight: Vladimir Bulović
    Electrical Engineering professor's imagination probes the tiniest scales of nature to create new materials that enable state-of-the-art devices in solar power, lighting, television and electronics.

    Professor Vladimir Bulović holds the Fariborz Maseeh Chair in Emerging Technology at MIT, heads the MIT Nano project and co-leads the MIT Innovation Initiative. His ONE Lab has been a hotbed of scientific discovery and he holds 75 patents covering innovations in solar energy, television displays and lighting. Photo, Maria E. Aglietti.
    Professor Vladimir Bulović holds 75 patents covering innovations in solar energy, television displays and lighting. Photo, Maria E. Aglietti.

    Imagine hearing aids powered by a see-through solar cell coating on your eyeglasses, tiny switches operated efficiently by squeezable molecules and television displays as colorful as nature operating at a fraction of today's energy consumption. 

     

    These are just some of the visions being brought to life in the laboratory of MIT Professor Vladimir Bulović.

    "The reason for making any of them is to exceed the state-of-the-art performances," says Bulović, the Fariborz Maseeh Chair in Emerging Technology at MIT School of Engineering. Read more.

    Making the Leap from Lab to Market
    MIT Innovation Initiative aims to foster more consistent approach to building bridges from research findings to real world impact.

    Professor Vladimir Bulović demonstrates how the MIT logo appears when an LED light shines on glass coated with thin layers of quantum dots that were inkjet printed. Photo, Maria E. Aglietti.
    Professor Vladimir Bulović demonstrates how the MIT logo appears when an LED light shines on glass coated with thin layers of quantum dots that were inkjet printed. Photo, Maria E. Aglietti.
     

    MIT's Innovation Initiative hopes to improve the world by pushing forward the best of hundreds of ideas generated on campus through four pillars - education, research, outreach and the planned Laboratory for Innovation Science and Policy.

    "MIT has always developed itself by allowing 1,000 flowers to bloom, and that's brilliant, because it allows many experiments and then you choose the best of the ones that you see to be able to advance further. Because we have 1,000 flowers blooming, you might not necessarily see the best of those flowers in the garden," says Vladimir Bulović, the Fariborz Maseeh Chair in Emerging Technology at MIT School of Engineering, who also co-leads the MIT Innovation Initiative. Read more.

    Measuring Success by Jobs Created
    MIT Professor Vladimir Bulović co-founds QD Vision, Kateeva and Ubiquitous Energy.

    Professor Vladimir Bulović discusses transparent solar cells being commercialized by MIT spinoff Ubiquitous Energy, based in Menlo Park, Calif. The cells can power an electronic book reader, as seen in video behind him. Photo, Denis Paiste.
    Professor Vladimir Bulović discusses transparent solar cells being commercialized by MIT spinoff Ubiquitous Energy, based in Menlo Park, Calif. The cells can power an electronic book reader, as seen in video behind him. Photo, Denis Paiste.

    Just co-founding spinoffs QD Vision, Kateeva and Ubiquitous Energy could be viewed as a success story for MIT Professor Vladimir Bulović and his ONE Lab at MIT, but Bulović himself measures success in terms of jobs created.

    "From the perspective of our impact on the world, I often judge my success by asking how many jobs have my group's ideas made. QD Vision has about 80 to 85 people working; Kateeva also has about 80 people," he says.Each company grew out of laboratory findings that opened new insights into phenomena such as excitonic behavior and light-matter interactions. Read more.

    New Building for a New Era
    MIT Nano will enable new transformational ways of thinking for breakthrough research in materials, life sciences and more at the scale of atoms and molecules.
    Architect's rendering of planned MIT Nano facility and courtyard, looking northeast from MIT Building 4. Image courtesy of Wilson Architects.
    Architect's rendering of planned MIT Nano facility and courtyard, looking northeast from MIT Building 4. Image courtesy of Wilson Architects.
     

    While scientists have probed the nanoscale - that is the scale of atoms and molecules - for the past two decades or so, people have always experienced life on the nanoscale, perhaps without even being aware.

    "Often, the nanoscale is seen as this intangible property that we don't really experience in every day life, when that's not really the case," says Vladimir Bulović, the Fariborz Maseeh Chair in Emerging Technology at MIT School of Engineering, who also is charged with overseeing MIT Nano, an approximately $350 million construction project to build a state-of-the-art nanotechnology research facility in the heart of the MIT campus. Read more.

    Squitching Behavior
    MIT graduate student Farnaz Niroui demonstrates squeezable nano electromechanical switches with quantum tunneling function.

    MIT electrical engineering graduate student Farnaz Niroui works at a thermal evaporator which she uses to deposit a gold coating on squeezable switches, or
    MIT electrical engineering graduate student Farnaz Niroui works at a thermal evaporator which she uses to deposit a gold coating on squeezable switches, or "squitches," which she designed, fabricated and tested. Photo, Denis Paiste

    A longstanding problem in designing nanoscale electromechanical switches is the tendency for metal-to-metal contacts to stick together, locking the switch in an "on" position. MIT electrical engineering graduate student Farnaz Niroui has found a way to exploit that tendency to create electrodes with nanometer-thin separations. 

    By designing a cantilever that can collapse and permanently adhere onto a support structure during the fabrication process, Niroui's process leaves a controllable nanoscale gap between the cantilever and electrodes. Read more.

    Cheap, Flexible Solar
    Tuning energy levels through surface chemistry shows promise for higher efficiency quantum dot solar cells, MIT graduate student Patrick R. Brown's work shows.

    MIT physics graduate student Patrick R. Brown holds a vial of lead sulfide quantum dots inside a glovebox in the Organic and Nanostructured Electronics (ONE) Lab  at MIT. Brown is working to understand how the surface chemistry and electronic properties of quantum dots can be tuned to increase the efficiency of quantum dot solar cells. Photo, Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center.
    MIT physics graduate student Patrick R. Brown, holding a vial of lead sulfide quantum dots inside a glovebox, works to understand how surface chemistry and electronic properties can be tuned to increase efficiency of quantum dot solar cells. Photo, Denis Paiste.
    Lead sulfide quantum dot solar cells could eventually offer a cheaper, more flexible alternative to ones made using silicon, but they are currently much less efficient. However, altering the chemical composition of quantum dot solar cells offers a way of tuning them to reach higher efficiencies, MIT physics graduate student Patrick R. Brown says.

    The world currently produces enough lead and sulfur in the span of a few weeks to build lead sulfide solar cells to supply all the world's electricity, Brown notes. Other alternatives to silicon such as cadmium telluride or copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) have the disadvantage of using costlier and less abundant starting materials. Lead sulfide quantum dots have another advantage over other emerging thin-film solar cell technologies like organic polymers and perovskites in that they are stable in air. Read more.
    MPC Marks 35 Years
    Service to faculty, collaboration with industry are hallmarks of campus-based Materials Processing Center at MIT.
     

    On February 1, 2015, the Materials Processing Center celebrates 35 years of service to the MIT faculty and materials research community.

     

    Current MPC research topics include synthesis of materials for optoelectronics, microphotonics, solar and thermal energy, biomedicine, microelectronics, and quantum computing, building on its original foundation of metallurgy, polymers, composites and ceramics. "The original foundation areas remain just as relevant for research, as tools for nanostructuring are allowing us to revisit the same materials to address the challenges facing people today and in the future," says MPC Associate Director Mark Beals. "Studies of materials at the nanoscale reveal new insights into fundamental properties of materials." Read more.

    IN OTHER NEWS

    Tonio Buonassisi seeks to make solar cells competitive

    Mechanical engineering professor pursues a vision of a cleaner, more energy-efficient world.

    MIT Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Tonio Buonassisi. Photo, M. Scott Brauer
    MIT Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Tonio Buonassisi. Photo, M. Scott Brauer
     

    David L. Chandler

    MIT News Office

     
    One day in the 1990s, as he was riding home from high school in São Paulo, Tonio Buonassisi looked out the bus window at the Brazilian city's long lines of traffic, and its smoggy haze. In that moment, he realized that there had to be better ways for people to produce and use energy - and that he wanted to try to do something about it.


    "São Paulo is one of the largest cities in the world, and was one of the world's most polluted cities," Buonassisi recalls. "I was taking the bus home from basketball practice ... one of the worst times to be breathing in pollution is right after exercising." The pollution, which was especially bad that day, led to his decision, at age 16, to work to advance solar energy or public transportation.

     

    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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    For more information contact Mark Beals at 617-253-2129 or mbeals@mit.edu
    Summer Scholars
     
     
    Upcoming Events
     
    2015 MRS Spring Meeting & ExhibitApril 6-10, 2015  San Francisco, Calif.

    Cambridge Science Festival, April 17-26, 2015.

     
    Materials Day Symposium and Poster Session, Oct. 14, 2015 
     
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    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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