The Faculty of Materials is part of two new DOE Energy Frontier Research Centers
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Five professors from Penn State’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MatSE) are members of selected research teams for two recently funded Energy Frontier Research Centers. The rewards, announced on August 25are part of a $540 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) initiative to invest in clean energy technologies and low-carbon manufacturing to help the United States achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
“Achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s ambitious climate and clean energy goals will require a groundbreaking commitment to clean energy — and that’s starting with researchers across the country,” the U.S. secretary said. to Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm. “The research projects announced today will strengthen the scientific foundation necessary for the United States to maintain its global leadership in clean energy innovation, from renewable energy to carbon management.”
More than $400 million of the funds will go to creation and maintenance of 43 research centers on the frontiers of energywhich bring together multidisciplinary scientific teams to tackle the most difficult scientific challenges preventing advances in energy technologies.
Susan Sinnott, Department Head and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, will serve as Deputy Director of the EFRC Fast and Cooperative Ion Transport in Polymer-Based Electrolytes (FaCT). It will receive $11.5 million over four years to focus on polymer electrolytes for next-generation energy storage devices such as fuel cells and solid-state electric vehicle batteries.
“Ongoing collaborative research in FaCT will advance the basic science of ion and proton transport in novel solid-state electrolytic materials,” Sinnott said. “This breakthrough promises to enable safer, longer-lasting batteries for electronic devices and other applications.”
The center is run by the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other Penn State professors include Ralph Colby and Michael Hickner, both professors of materials science and engineering and chemical engineering, and Wesley Reinhart, assistant professor of materials science and engineering and the Institute of Computing and Data. Science roommate.
Professors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Texas A&M University, University of California, Santa Barbara, University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Georgia State University are also part of of the FaCT.
Ismaila Dabo, associate professor of materials science and engineering, is part of the research team of the second EFRC, Center for Electrochemical Dynamics and Reactions on Surfaces (CEDARS). Led by North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, it will receive $10.35 million over four years to focus on separating hydrogen and oxygen from water to produce clean hydrogen for energy use.
In addition to Penn State, CEDARS also includes professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cornell University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Penn State operates two of the 43 ERFCs: Three-dimensional ferroelectric microelectronics (3DFeM) and the Lignocellulose Structure and Formation Center (CLSF). Penn State also has 21 faculty in one or more EFRC research teams, including 11 associated with MatSE.
3DFeM is led by Susan Trolier-McKinstry, Professor at Evan Pugh University and Flaschen Professor of Ceramic Science and Engineering. 3DFeM takes on the non-von Neumann challenge to propel radical advances in microelectronic devices, circuits and systems. The goal of 3DFeM is to enable a million-fold improvement in the interconnect between memory and logic, as well as substantial reductions in the energy cost of computing. 3DFeM is in its third year of funding.
The CLSF is directed by Daniel Cosgrove, holder of the Eberly chair and professor of biology. The goal of CLSF is to develop a nano- to meso-scale understanding of cellulosic cell walls, the energy-rich structural material of plants, and the physical mechanisms of cell wall assembly, forming the basis for new technologies in sustainable energy and new biomaterials. The CLSF has been continuously funded since the launch of the ERFC program in 2009.
The DOE’s EFRC program has become an important research modality in the department’s portfolio, enabling high-impact research that addresses key scientific challenges in energy technologies. Funded by the Office of Science’s Basic Energy Sciences program, EFRCs are located across the United States and are led by universities, national laboratories, and private research institutes. These multi-research and multidisciplinary centers bring together teams of world-class researchers, often from several institutions.