Newsletter, September 2014

     
    MIT Materials News that Matters

    September 2014
     
     
    Materials Processing Center at MIT MIT Dome
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    New Frontiers in Metals Processing
    Materials Day Symposium & Poster Session   
    Photo: Maria E. Aglietti

    Hear directly from MIT researchers who are perfecting a liquid metal battery for energy storage, engineering less toxic metal processes such as a nickel-tungsten coating that replaces chromium and developing a new field of strain engineering by altering surfaces of key structural materials.
     

    New tools and methods are driving a renaissance in innovation in the design and processing of metals, which continue to play critical roles in all aspects of technology, from micro- and nano-scale devices that enable our massively networked culture, to the buildings we live and work in.   

     

    Our agenda includes invited industry leaders presenting on key challenges and opportunities impacting technology in their fields. They include Dr. Adam Powell of INFINIUM, Inc; Dr. David Rowatt of Schlumberger; Dr. Louis Hector of General Motors; and Dr. Slade Gardner of Lockheed Martin. 

      

    Also on the agenda are MIT Professors Don Sadoway, Chris Schuh and Bilge Yildiz, respectively, will update their research in these areas during the Materials Day 2014 Symposium, "New Frontiers in Metal Processing," Oct. 21, 2014, in Little Kresge Auditorium, W16, on the MIT campus from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Immediately following the symposium there will be a poster session highlighting the latest materials research, 3:30p.m. to 5:30p.m.   

     

    Admission is free and registration is open to the MIT community, colleagues and friends. Persons interested in attending the event are asked to pre-register. 

     
    Faculty Highlight: Bilge Yildiz
    Nuclear Science Associate Professor analyzes the surfaces structure of materials for solutions to problems as diverse as enabling fuel cells and preventing pipe corrosion.

    Associate Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering Bilge Yildiz analyzes the surface structure of materials. Photo: Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center
    Associate Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering Bilge Yildiz analyzes the surface structure of materials.


    Whether working on preventing corrosion for undersea oil fields and nuclear power plants, or for producing electricity from fuel cells or oxygen from electrolyzers for travel to Mars, Associate Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering Bilge Yildiz is motivated by a desire to understand the underlying physical phenomena that govern surface reactions.  

    "The work we do in our lab focuses first on the mechanisms of whatever phenomenon in which we are interested and curious about. Based on that understanding, we then guide design of new materials," Yildiz says. Read more.

    Materials Day 2014

    New Frontiers in

    Metal Processing

    Professor Bilge Yildiz will present a research update during the Materials Day Symposium, Oct. 21, 2014, in  Kresge Auditorium, W16, on the MIT campus.
    Register
    Keeping Hydrogen from Cracking Metals   
    MIT Postdoctoral Associate Mostafa Youssef and graduate student Aravind Krishnamoorthy tackle different aspects of the problem at atomic scale.
    MIT Postdoctoral Associate Mostafa Youssef studies how defects in zirconium oxide, including hydrogen, can move through the material from the environment side to the underlying metal, and identifies physically-based design parameters for better resistance against corrosion and hydrogen.  Photo: Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center
    MIT Postdoctoral Associate Mostafa Youssef studies how defects in zirconium oxide, including hydrogen, can move through the material from the environment side to the underlying metal, and identifies physically-based design parameters for better resistance against corrosion and hydrogen.
    Metal alloys such as steel and zirconium that are used in pipes for nuclear reactors and oil fields naturally acquire a protective oxide or sulfide layer. But hydrogen penetration can lead to their breakdown and speed up corrosion. Understanding how defects in the protective layer allow hydrogen to penetrate could lead to designing stronger, more corrosion resistant alloys.MIT Postdoctoral Associate Mostafa Youssef and graduate student Aravind Krishnamoorthy are studying protective layers of iron sulfide in steel and zirconium oxide in zirconium alloys by modeling atomic level interactions. They are members of the Lab for Electrochemical Interfaces directed by MIT Associate Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering Bilge Yildiz."We are trying to first understand fundamentally this oxide layer that grows on the metal in general. It doesn't really matter which particular metal it is. And then we can engineer through alloying by inserting a percentage of other metals, in order to improve the resistance toward the degradation phenomenon that we care about, whether it's hydrogen or just the continuous corrosion. We just need a little bit of corrosion to sufficiently produce a coherent oxide layer," Youssef says. Read more.   
    An Ion Diffusion 'Traffic Jam'   
    MIT researcher Lixin Sun studies how dislocations in thin film oxide electrolytes affect transport of oxide ions in fuel cells; colleague Qiyang Lu induces elastic strain to enhance oxygen reduction reaction in cathodes.
       
    Members of the Laboratory for Electrochemical Interfaces at MIT include, from left,  Postdoctoral Associate Mostafa Youssef, Associate Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering Bilge Yildiz, and graduate students Lixin Sun, Aravind Krishnamoorthy and Qiyang Lu. Photo: Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center
    Members of the Laboratory for Electrochemical Interfaces at MIT include, from left, Postdoctoral Associate Mostafa Youssef, Associate Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering Bilge Yildiz, and graduate students Lixin Sun, Aravind Krishnamoorthy and Qiyang Lu.
    Solid oxide fuel cells and solid oxide electrolysis cells hold the promise of highly efficient energy conversion, with lower pollution, to meet increasing global energy demands. But these devices need good catalysis to speed up the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), either at the cathode in a fuel cell or at the anode in an electrolysis cell. "This is really the bottleneck of these two clean energy techniques," says MIT materials science and engineering graduate student Qiyang Lu. Lu is working with fellow nuclear science and engineering graduate student Lixin Sun under Associate Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering Bilge Yildiz to develop techniques for applying strain to materials to accelerate oxygen reduction reactions for application in solid oxide fuel cells. Lu conducts the experimental side of the research, focusing on oxygen exchange on the surface of cathode materials, while Sun explores the computational side, studying ionic activity of solid-state electrolytes and cathodes.
    IN OTHER NEWS
    Making a Perfect Solar Absorber   
    New system aims to harness the full spectrum of available solar radiation.
       
    This rendering shows the metallic dielectric photonic crystal that stores solar energy as heat. Image, Jeffrey Chou
    This rendering shows the metallic dielectric photonic crystal that stores solar energy as heat. Image, Jeffrey Chou
    David L. Chandler 
    MIT News Office
     
    The key to creating a material that would be ideal for converting solar energy to heat is tuning the material's spectrum of absorption just right: It should absorb virtually all wavelengths of light that reach Earth's surface from the sun - but not much of the rest of the spectrum, since that would increase the energy that is reradiated by the material, and thus lost to the conversion process.Now researchers at MIT say they have accomplished the development of a material that comes very close to the "ideal" for solar absorption. The material is a two-dimensional metallic dielectric photonic crystal, and has the additional benefits of absorbing sunlight from a wide range of angles and withstanding extremely high temperatures. Perhaps most importantly, the material can also be made cheaply at large scales.The creation of this material is described in a paper published in the journal Advanced Materials, co-authored by MIT postdoc Jeffrey Chou, professors Marin Soljacic, Nicholas Fang, Evelyn Wang, and Sang-Gook Kim, and five others.The material works as part of a solar-thermophotovoltaic (STPV) device: The sunlight's energy is first converted to heat, which then causes the material to glow, emitting light that can, in turn, be converted to an electric current.
     
    Liquid Metal Battery Improvements
    Cheaper, longer-lasting materials could enable batteries that make wind and solar energy more competitive.David L. Chandler 
    MIT News Office
     
    Researchers at MIT have improved a proposed liquid battery system that could enable renewable energy sources to compete with conventional power plants.
    A physical model of the liquid metal battery. The bottom layer is the positive electrode. Image, Felice Frankel
    A physical model of the liquid metal battery. The bottom layer is the positive electrode. Image, Felice Frankel
    Donald Sadoway and colleagues have already started a company to produce electrical-grid-scale liquid batteries, whose layers of molten material automatically separate due to their differing densities. But the new formula - published in the journal Nature by Sadoway, former postdocs Kangli Wang and Kai Jiang, and seven others - substitutes different metals for the molten layers used in a battery previously developed by the team.Sadoway, the John F. Elliott Professor of Materials Chemistry, says the new formula allows the battery to work at a temperature more than 200 degrees Celsius lower than the previous formulation.

     Read more. 

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    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 
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