Newsletter, June 2013


    MIT Materials News that Matters

    June 2013

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    Faculty Highlight: Professor Yang Shao-Horn

    Chemical Storage for Renewable Energy

    Yang Shao-Horn
    Image courtesy of MIT Energy Intiative: Stuart Darsch, Copyright 2013

    Working with collaborators from the MIT campus to research groups in California and Singapore, MIT Professor Yang Shao-Horn's group has produced research that could lead not only to practical improvements but to better scientific understanding of underlying reaction mechanisms in catalysis. The research is applicable to fuel cells, lithium-air or metal-air batteries and electrochemical photo-induced reactions.


    "To build a device using, let's say using either lithium as an energy carrier, or hydrogen as an energy carrier, you will have to combine either lithium or hydrogen with oxygen to form lithium oxide or water - so that basically is the energy generation process, where you can actually extract electricity from chemical energy. If you want to store that energy, you need to convert the electrical energy from the renewable source, say a solar cell, into a chemical form - that is where you need to do water splitting to generate the hydrogen or to do oxidation of metal oxide to generate lithium. So essentially if you want to utilize oxygen for storage and also for generation of electricity, we need to figure out how to promote (the) kinetics of oxygen reduction and oxygen evolution, because the kinetics of oxygen electrocatalysis really limits the efficiency, how we convert energy," Shao-Horn said.

    Read More

    Maximizing Oxygen Reduction

    Kelsey Stoerzinger Identifies Highest Manganese Activity

    Kelsey Stoerzinger

    Kelsey Stoerzinger, a materials science graduate student, who is working with MIT Professor Yang Shao-Horn, is producing fundamental insights into the surface chemistry of transition metal oxides in catalytic oxygen reduction reactions.


    Their work led to identification of a particular ionic state, Mn3+ (manganese with three lost electrons) as the active species for oxygen reduction on thin films of lanthanum manganese oxide (LMO) and lanthanum calcium strontium manganese oxide (La(Ca,Sr)MnO3). Their results were published in March 2013 in Energy and Environmental Science. "They were able to demonstrate conclusively that Mn3+, not Mn4+ or Mn2+, is the active species for ORR. They also revealed that the substrate can greatly alter the ORR activities of oxide films of a few nanometers in thickness by interfacial charge transfer," EES Development Editor Rowan Frame wrote in an April blog post "Their findings are very important for the future design of nanostructured catalysts for electrochemical conversion and storage."

    Read more


    Transition Metal Oxide Catalysts
    Hong Works to Map Dynamic Oxidation Reactions

    Wesley Hong

    Materials Science graduate student Wesley T. Hong, who works in the Electrochemical Energy Lab of MIT Professor Yang Shao-Horn, is using spectroscopy to understand several intrinsic aspects of oxide compounds for electrocatalytic reactions such as lanthanum strontium cobaltite (La0.8Sr0.2CoO3−δ or LSC113).


    Hong, 24, was a co-author of a recent Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters article that reported decreasing electron density upon heating at the surface of one form of lanthanum strontium cobalt oxygen compound, La0.8Sr0.2CoO3−δ (LSC113 or lanthanum strontium cobaltite). But LSC113 with the addition of another form of the compound, (La0.5Sr0.5)2CoO4+δ (LSC214), showed no change upon heating.


    The journal article, "In Situ Studies of Temperature-Dependent Surface Structure and Chemistry of Single-Crystalline (001)-Oriented La0.8Sr0.2CoO3-δ Perovskite Thin Films," examined the thin films under real-time heating conditions rather than before and after imaging. "We conduct these studies at a synchroton source at the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and they have a specialized set up that allows us to perform in situ studies where we can heat up the sample in ambient pressures of oxygen," Hong said. Read more


    White House Cites new MITx Course as Key to Improving U.S. Innovation
    Professor Eugene Fitzgerald and Andreas Wankerl Reconceptualize the Innovation Process in New MOOC

    Gene Fitzgerald
    An upcoming MITx course, called 3.086x Innovation and Commercialization, has been cited by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as a key resource for bringing innovation to market more effectively. Taught by MIT Professor Eugene Fitzgerald and Dr. Andreas Wankerl, operations director for the Innovation Interface, the course was developed from decades of practical research and industry experience, which is also described in their 2010 book, "Inside Real Innovation" (World Scientific).

    The course, offered on the edX platform starting September 16, is intended for inventors, entrepreneurs, corporate decision-makers, investors and policy-makers. It presents a new model for understanding the complex market forces that determine the success or failure of innovation: "People often think of innovation as a straight-line process from invention to implementation to product to market," says Professor Fitzgerald in discussing the course. "In the real world, innovation is much more complicated and requires a deep understanding of technologies, implementation options and potential markets all at the same time throughout the process. Effective innovation requires many different attempts to fit these three domains together to bring a product to market successfully." Read More


    A Summer to Explore Science
    18 Collegiate Scholars Immerse Themselves in MIT Research

    Summer Scholars 2013
    Projects to understand the mechanics of spider webs, detect minute quantities of disease markers in fluid, and design stronger materials for 50-ton submarine rotor shafts all offered a path to research experience for 18 Summer Scholars through MIT's Materials Processing Center and Center for Materials Science and Engineering.


    The summer interns, nine women and nine men, 15 rising seniors and three rising juniors from colleges in 14 states as well as Puerto Rico, picked their faculty lab affiliations in a 45-minute session Wednesday evening, June 12, after three intensive days of on-campus presentations and lab tours by faculty and affiliated researchers.

    Mila'na Jones, a chemistry and mathematics major from Xavier University of Louisiana, will be working in the Bioelectronics Group lab of Dr. Polina Anikeeva, AMAX Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering. "For the experimental portion, I know that I'll be synthesizing the particles, and then I get to characterize them and test them using some shared facilities and some of the facilities that she has in her lab," Jones said. Read more


    Materials Science Graduates Will Work at Intel

    Rodolfo  Camacho

    Two of MIT's materials science Ph.D. graduates this spring have Intel affiliations. Robert Mitchell is working in Intel's research and development organization outside Portland, Oregon, while Rodolfo Camacho-Aguilera is joining Intel in July with an initial rotation in Santa Clara, Calif., to work on optoelectronic integration.

    Mitchell's work at MIT centered on lithium oxygen batteries, while Camacho-Aguilera focused on designing, making and testing a germanium laser integrated on silicon. Read more

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