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  • richardmitnick 7:30 am on June 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Light-harvesting nanoparticle catalysts show promise in quest for renewable carbon-based fuels", "Supermassive black holes help with star birth", , Catalysis, ,   

    From University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (US) : “Light-harvesting nanoparticle catalysts show promise in quest for renewable carbon-based fuels” 

    From University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (US)

    Jun 24, 2021

    Lois Yoksoulian

    In the right conditions, silver nanoparticles, represented by the large orange spheres, can absorb visible light. Charge carriers produced by light excitation are transferred to CO2 and water, allowing the conversion to hydrocarbons and other multicarbon molecules. In the graphic, carbon atoms are black, oxygen atoms are red and hydrogen atoms are white. Graphic courtesy D. Devasia/Jain Lab/University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

    Researchers report that small quantities of useful molecules such as hydrocarbons are produced when carbon dioxide and water react in the presence of light and a silver nanoparticle catalyst. Their validation study – made possible through the use of a high-resolution analytical technique – could pave the way for CO2-reduction technologies that allow industrial-scale production of renewable carbon-based fuels.

    The study, led by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign chemistry professor Prashant Jain, probes chemical activity at the surface of silver nanoparticle catalysts under visible light and uses carbon isotopes to track the origin and production of these previously undetected chemical reactions. The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.

    Sunlight-driven conversion of CO2 and water into energy-dense multicarbon compounds is a viable technology for renewable energy generation and chemical manufacturing. Because of this, researchers have been on the hunt for synthetic catalysts that facilitate large-scale CO2 reduction into multicarbon molecules, the study reports.

    “Industrial-level catalytic chemical reactions are usually tested and optimized on the basis of the bulk profile of the final products,” Jain said. “But there are chemical species formed at the intermediate stages of such reactions, on the surface of the catalysts, that might be too scarce to detect and measure using conventional methods but are fundamental signifiers of how a catalyst functions.”

    In the lab, Jain’s team used a specially outfitted Raman spectroscope to detect and identify single molecules formed at the surface of individual silver nanoparticles. By isolating a single nanoparticle on which the chemical reactions progress, the researchers can use a highly focused laser to excite molecules forming on the catalyst surface to create a spectral signal that identifies the molecules formed in discrete, elementary steps of the overall chemical process.

    “I like to think of this work in terms of a story,” Jain said. “There is an overall theme to a story, which is the reduction of CO2. The main characters are CO2, H2O, silver nanoparticles, carbon monoxide and hydrogen ions, for example. But there are also some more minor but very interesting characters like butanol, acetate and oxalic acid that help tell the back story of the main characters. And sometimes, the minor characters are a lot more interesting than the major ones.”

    Sometimes minor characters can come with some unintended players, Jain said. To ensure that the intermediate carbon-based molecules the researchers detected are a result of the CO2 reduction process and not contamination, they used CO2 containing only carbon-13 isotope, which makes up only 1.1% of the carbon on Earth.

    “Using carbon-13 to trace the reaction pathways allowed us to confirm that any hydrocarbons measured were there as a result of the CO2 we intentionally added in the reaction vessel, and not accidentally introduced via contamination of the silver nanoparticles or later during the analysis process,” Jain said. “Carbon-13 is rare, so if we were to detect it in our reaction products, we would know it was the result of the light-driven conversion of CO2 and C–C bond formation.”

    The scale of multicarbon molecule formation by using silver nanoparticle catalysts remains very small at this stage of the research, Jain said. However, researchers can concentrate on developing improved synthetic catalysts and scaling up for industrial production, now that the promise of light-harvesting nanoparticles has been revealed.

    The National Science Foundation (US) and the Energy and Biosciences Institute (US) through the EBI–Shell program supported this study.

    U. of I. graduate researcher Dinumol Devasia conducted the studies with contributions from former postdoctoral researcher Andrew J. Wilson, former graduate students Varun Mohan and Jaeyoung Heo. Jain also is affiliated with physics, the Materials Research Laboratory and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (US) community of students, scholars, and alumni is changing the world.

    The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (U of I, Illinois, or colloquially the University of Illinois or UIUC) is a public land-grant research university in Illinois in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana. It is the flagship institution of the University of Illinois system and was founded in 1867.

    The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is a member of the Association of American Universities (US) and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”, and has been listed as a “Public Ivy” in The Public Ivies: America’s Flagship Public Universities (2001) by Howard and Matthew Greene. In fiscal year 2019, research expenditures at Illinois totaled $652 million. The campus library system possesses the second-largest university library in the United States by holdings after Harvard University (US). The university also hosts the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (US) (NCSA).

    The university contains 16 schools and colleges and offers more than 150 undergraduate and over 100 graduate programs of study. The university holds 651 buildings on 6,370 acres (2,578 ha). The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign also operates a Research Park home to innovation centers for over 90 start-up companies and multinational corporations, including Abbott, AbbVie, Caterpillar, Capital One, Dow, State Farm, and Yahoo, among others.

    As of August 2020, the alumni, faculty members, or researchers of the university include 30 Nobel laureates; 27 Pulitzer Prize winners; 2 Turing Award winners and 1 Fields medalist. Illinois athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Fighting Illini. They are members of the Big Ten Conference and have won the second-most conference titles. Illinois Fighting Illini football won the Rose Bowl Game in 1947, 1952, 1964 and a total of five national championships. Illinois athletes have won 29 medals in Olympic events, ranking it among the top 40 American universities with Olympic medals.
    Illinois Industrial University

    The original University Hall, which stood until 1938, when it was replaced by Gregory Hall and the Illini Union. Pieces were used in the erection of Hallene Gateway dedicated in 1998.
    The University of Illinois, originally named “Illinois Industrial University”, was one of the 37 universities created under the first Morrill Land-Grant Act, which provided public land for the creation of agricultural and industrial colleges and universities across the United States. Among several cities, Urbana was selected in 1867 as the site for the new school. From the beginning, President John Milton Gregory’s desire to establish an institution firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition was at odds with many state residents and lawmakers who wanted the university to offer classes based solely around “industrial education”. The university opened for classes on March 2, 1868 and had two faculty members and 77 students.
    The Library which opened with the school in 1868 started with 1,039 volumes. Subsequently President Edmund J. James in a speech to the board of trustees in 1912 proposed to create a research library. It is now one of the world’s largest public academic collections. In 1870 the Mumford House was constructed as a model farmhouse for the school’s experimental farm. The Mumford House remains the oldest structure on campus. The original University Hall (1871) was the fourth building built. It stood where the Illini Union stands today.

    University of Illinois
    In 1885, the Illinois Industrial University officially changed its name to the “University of Illinois”, reflecting its agricultural; mechanical; and liberal arts curriculum.

    During his presidency Edmund J. James (1904–1920) is credited for building the foundation for the large Chinese international student population on campus. James established ties with China through the Chinese Minister to the United States Wu Ting-Fang. In addition during James’s presidency class rivalries and Bob Zuppke’s winning football teams contributed to campus morale.

    Like many universities the economic depression slowed construction and expansion on the campus. The university replaced the original university hall with Gregory Hall and the Illini Union. After World War II the university experienced rapid growth. The enrollment doubled and the academic standing improved. This period was also marked by large growth in the Graduate College and increased federal support of scientific and technological research. During the 1950s and 1960s the university experienced the turmoil common on many American campuses. Among these were the water fights of the fifties and sixties.

    University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
    By 1967 the University of Illinois system consisted of a main campus in Champaign-Urbana and two Chicago campuses- Chicago Circle (UICC) and Medical Center (UIMC). People began using “Urbana–Champaign” or the reverse to refer to the main campus specifically. The university name officially changed to the “University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign” around 1982. While this was a reversal of the commonly used designation for the metropolitan area- “Champaign-Urbana” – most of the campus is located in Urbana. The name change established a separate identity for the main campus within the University of Illinois system which today includes campuses in Springfield (UIS) and Chicago (UIC) (formed by the merger of UICC and UIMC).

    In 1998 the Hallene Gateway Plaza was dedicated. The Plaza features the original sandstone portal of University Hall which was originally the fourth building on campus. In recent years state support has declined from 4.5% of the state’s tax appropriations in 1980 to 2.28% in 2011- a nearly 50% decline. As a result the university’s budget has shifted away from relying on state support with nearly 84% of the budget now coming from other sources.

    On March 12, 2015, the Board of Trustees approved the creation of a medical school, the first college created at Urbana–Champaign in 60 years. The Carle-Illinois College of Medicine began classes in 2018.


    The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is often regarded as a world-leading magnet for engineering and sciences (both applied and basic). Having been classified into the category comprehensive doctoral with medical/veterinary and very high research activity by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Illinois offers a wide range of disciplines in undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

    According to the National Science Foundation (US) the university spent $625 million on research and development in 2018 ranking it 37th in the nation. It is also listed as one of the Top 25 American Research Universities by The Center for Measuring University Performance. Beside annual influx of grants and sponsored projects the university manages an extensive modern research infrastructure. The university has been a leader in computer based education and hosted the PLATO project which was a precursor to the internet and resulted in the development of the plasma display. Illinois was a 2nd-generation ARPAnet site in 1971 and was the first institution to license the UNIX operating system from Bell Labs.

  • richardmitnick 11:52 am on June 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "First nanoscale look at a reaction that limits the efficiency of generating clean hydrogen fuel", , Catalysis, , DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) (US), , Electrolysis: using electricity to break water down into oxygen and hydrogen., Hydrogen gas is an important chemical feedstock for producing ammonia and refining steel and is increasingly being targeted as a clean fuel for heavy duty transportation and long-term energy storage., More than 95% of the hydrogen produced today comes from natural gas via reactions that emit carbon dioxide as a byproduct., , , , Scaling up to a hydrogen economy., The scientists were able to identify a single step in the reaction that limits how fast it can proceed., There aren’t enough precious metals in the world to power this reaction at the scale we need., They discovered that most of the catalytic activity took place on the edges of particles., They were able to observe the chemical interactions between the particle and the surrounding electrolyte at a scale of billionths of a meter., To produce hydrogen fuel from water on a big enough scale to power a green economy scientists will have to make the other half of the water-splitting reaction much more efficient., , Zooming in on individual catalyst nanoparticles and watching them accelerate the generation of oxygen inside custom-made electrochemical cells.   

    From DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (US) : “First nanoscale look at a reaction that limits the efficiency of generating clean hydrogen fuel” 

    From DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (US)

    May 5, 2021 [Just now in social media.]
    Glennda Chui

    With a new suite of tools, scientists discovered exactly how tiny plate-like catalyst particles carry out a key step in that conversion – the evolution of oxygen in an electrocatalytic cell – in unprecedented detail.

    An illustration shows bubbles of oxygen rising from the edges of a six-sided, plate-like catalyst particle, 200 times smaller than a red blood cell, as it carries out a reaction called OER that splits water molecules and generates oxygen gas. The small arm at left is from an atomic force microscope. It’s one of a suite of techniques that researchers from SLAC, Stanford, Berkeley Lab and the University of Warwick brought together to study this reaction – a key step in producing clean hydrogen fuel – in unprecedented detail. The concentric rings represent the scanning transmission X-ray microscope’s Fresnel zone plate used to image the process at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source. Credit: CUBE3D Graphic.

    Transitioning from fossil fuels to a clean hydrogen economy will require cheaper and more efficient ways to use renewable sources of electricity to break water into hydrogen and oxygen.

    But a key step in that process, known as the oxygen evolution reaction or OER, has proven to be a bottleneck. Today it’s only about 75% efficient, and the precious metal catalysts used to accelerate the reaction, like platinum and iridium, are rare and expensive.

    Now an international team led by scientists at Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has developed a suite of advanced tools to break through this bottleneck and improve other energy-related processes, such as finding ways to make lithium-ion batteries charge faster. The research team described their work in Nature.

    Working at Stanford University (US), SLAC, DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) (US) and University of Warwick (UK), they were able to zoom in on individual catalyst nanoparticles – shaped like tiny plates and about 200 times smaller than a red blood cell – and watch them accelerate the generation of oxygen inside custom-made electrochemical cells, including one that fits inside a drop of water.

    They discovered that most of the catalytic activity took place on the edges of particles, and they were able to observe the chemical interactions between the particle and the surrounding electrolyte at a scale of billionths of a meter as they turned up the voltage to drive the reaction.

    By combining their observations with prior computational work performed in collaboration with the SLAC SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis (US) at SLAC and Stanford, they were able to identify a single step in the reaction that limits how fast it can proceed.

    “This suite of methods can tell us the where, what and why of how these electrocatalytic materials work under realistic operating conditions,” said Tyler Mefford, a staff scientist with Stanford and the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES) at SLAC who led the research. “Now that we have outlined how to use this platform, the applications are extremely broad.”

    Scaling up to a hydrogen economy

    The idea of using electricity to break water down into oxygen and hydrogen dates back to 1800, when two British researchers discovered that they could use electric current generated by Alessandro Volta’s newly invented pile battery to power the reaction.

    This process, called electrolysis, works much like a battery in reverse: Rather than generating electricity, it uses electrical current to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The reactions that generate hydrogen and oxygen gas take place on different electrodes using different precious metal catalysts.

    Hydrogen gas is an important chemical feedstock for producing ammonia and refining steel and is increasingly being targeted as a clean fuel for heavy duty transportation and long-term energy storage. But more than 95% of the hydrogen produced today comes from natural gas via reactions that emit carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Generating hydrogen through water electrolysis driven by electricity from solar, wind, and other sustainable sources would significantly reduce carbon emissions in a number of important industries.

    But to produce hydrogen fuel from water on a big enough scale to power a green economy scientists will have to make the other half of the water-splitting reaction – the one that generates oxygen ­– much more efficient, and find ways to make it work with catalysts based on much cheaper and more abundant metals than the ones used today.

    “There aren’t enough precious metals in the world to power this reaction at the scale we need,” Mefford said, “and their cost is so high that the hydrogen they generate could never compete with hydrogen derived from fossil fuels.”

    Improving the process will require a much better understanding of how water-splitting catalysts operate, in enough detail that scientists can predict what can be done to improve them. Until now, many of the best techniques for making these observations did not work in the liquid environment of an electrocatalytic reactor.

    In this study, scientists found several ways to get around those limitations and get a sharper picture than ever before.

    This animation combines images of a tiny, plate-like catalyst particle as it carries out a reaction that splits water and generates oxygen gas – part of a clean, sustainable process for producing hydrogen fuel. Made with an atomic force microscope in a Stanford lab, the images reveal how the catalyst changes shape and size as it operates – part of an in-depth study that showed the chemistry of the process is much different than previously assumed. Credit: Tyler Mefford and Andrew Akbashev/Stanford University.

    New ways to spy on catalysts

    The catalyst they chose to investigate was cobalt oxyhydroxide, which came in the form of flat, six-sided crystals called nanoplatelets. The edges were sharp and extremely thin, so it would be easy to distinguish whether a reaction was taking place on the edges or on the flat surface.

    About a decade ago, Patrick Unwin’s research group at the University of Warwick had invented a novel technique for putting a miniature electrochemical cell inside a nanoscale droplet that protrudes from the tip of a pipette tube. When the droplet is brought into contact with a surface, the device images the topography of the surface and electronic and ionic currents with very high resolution.

    For this study, Unwin’s team adapted this tiny device to work in the chemical environment of the oxygen evolution reaction. Postdoctoral researchers Minkyung Kang and Cameron Bentley moved it from place to place across the surface of a single catalyst particle as the reaction took place.

    “Our technique allows us to zoom in to study extremely small regions of reactivity,” said Kang, who led out the experiments there. “We are looking at oxygen generation at a scale more than one hundred million times smaller than typical techniques.”

    They discovered that, as is often that case for catalytic materials, only the edges were actively promoting the reaction, suggesting that future catalysts should maximize this sort of sharp, thin feature.

    Meanwhile, Stanford and SIMES researcher Andrew Akbashev used electrochemical atomic force microscopy to determine and visualize exactly how the catalyst changed shape and size during operation, and discovered that the reactions that initially changed the catalyst to its active state were much different than had been previously assumed. Rather than protons leaving the catalyst to kick off the activation, hydroxide ions inserted themselves into the catalyst first, forming water inside the particle that made it swell up. As the activation process went on, this water and residual protons were driven back out.

    In a third set of experiments, the team worked with David Shapiro and Young-Sang Yu at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source and with a Washington company, Hummingbird Scientific, to develop an electrochemical flow cell that could be integrated into a scanning transmission X-ray microscope.

    This allowed them to map out the oxidation state of the working catalyst – a chemical state that’s associated with catalytic activity – in areas as small as about 50 nanometers in diameter.

    “We can now start applying the techniques we developed in this work toward other electrochemical materials and processes,” Mefford said. “We would also like to study other energy-related reactions, like fast charging in battery electrodes, carbon dioxide reduction for carbon capture, and oxygen reduction, which allows us to use hydrogen in fuel cells.”

    The Advanced Light Source is a DOE Office of Science user facility, and major funding for this research came from the DOE Office of Science, including Small Business Innovation Research awards to Hummingbird Scientific. Parts of the research were performed at the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (US) originally named Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, is a United States Department of Energy National Laboratory operated by Stanford University under the programmatic direction of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science and located in Menlo Park, California. It is the site of the Stanford Linear Accelerator, a 3.2 kilometer (2-mile) linear accelerator constructed in 1966 and shut down in the 2000s, which could accelerate electrons to energies of 50 GeV.

    Today SLAC research centers on a broad program in atomic and solid-state physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine using X-rays from synchrotron radiation and a free-electron laser as well as experimental and theoretical research in elementary particle physics, astroparticle physics, and cosmology.

    Founded in 1962 as the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, the facility is located on 172 hectares (426 acres) of Stanford University-owned land on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, California—just west of the University’s main campus. The main accelerator is 3.2 kilometers (2 mi) long—the longest linear accelerator in the world—and has been operational since 1966.

    Research at SLAC has produced three Nobel Prizes in Physics

    1976: The charm quark—see J/ψ meson
    1990: Quark structure inside protons and neutrons
    1995: The tau lepton

    SLAC’s meeting facilities also provided a venue for the Homebrew Computer Club and other pioneers of the home computer revolution of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

    In 1984 the laboratory was named an ASME National Historic Engineering Landmark and an IEEE Milestone.

    SLAC developed and, in December 1991, began hosting the first World Wide Web server outside of Europe.

    In the early-to-mid 1990s, the Stanford Linear Collider (SLC) investigated the properties of the Z boson using the Stanford Large Detector.

    As of 2005, SLAC employed over 1,000 people, some 150 of whom were physicists with doctorate degrees, and served over 3,000 visiting researchers yearly, operating particle accelerators for high-energy physics and the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) for synchrotron light radiation research, which was “indispensable” in the research leading to the 2006 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to Stanford Professor Roger D. Kornberg.

    In October 2008, the Department of Energy announced that the center’s name would be changed to SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The reasons given include a better representation of the new direction of the lab and the ability to trademark the laboratory’s name. Stanford University had legally opposed the Department of Energy’s attempt to trademark “Stanford Linear Accelerator Center”.

    In March 2009, it was announced that the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory was to receive $68.3 million in Recovery Act Funding to be disbursed by Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

    In October 2016, Bits and Watts launched as a collaboration between SLAC and Stanford University to design “better, greener electric grids”. SLAC later pulled out over concerns about an industry partner, the state-owned Chinese electric utility.


    The main accelerator was an RF linear accelerator that accelerated electrons and positrons up to 50 GeV. At 3.2 km (2.0 mi) long, the accelerator was the longest linear accelerator in the world, and was claimed to be “the world’s most straight object.” until 2017 when the European x-ray free electron laser opened. The main accelerator is buried 9 m (30 ft) below ground and passes underneath Interstate Highway 280. The above-ground klystron gallery atop the beamline, was the longest building in the United States until the LIGO project’s twin interferometers were completed in 1999. It is easily distinguishable from the air and is marked as a visual waypoint on aeronautical charts.

    A portion of the original linear accelerator is now part of the Linac Coherent Light Source [below].

    Stanford Linear Collider

    The Stanford Linear Collider was a linear accelerator that collided electrons and positrons at SLAC. The center of mass energy was about 90 GeV, equal to the mass of the Z boson, which the accelerator was designed to study. Grad student Barrett D. Milliken discovered the first Z event on 12 April 1989 while poring over the previous day’s computer data from the Mark II detector. The bulk of the data was collected by the SLAC Large Detector, which came online in 1991. Although largely overshadowed by the Large Electron–Positron Collider at CERN, which began running in 1989, the highly polarized electron beam at SLC (close to 80%) made certain unique measurements possible, such as parity violation in Z Boson-b quark coupling.

    Presently no beam enters the south and north arcs in the machine, which leads to the Final Focus, therefore this section is mothballed to run beam into the PEP2 section from the beam switchyard.

    The SLAC Large Detector (SLD) was the main detector for the Stanford Linear Collider. It was designed primarily to detect Z bosons produced by the accelerator’s electron-positron collisions. Built in 1991, the SLD operated from 1992 to 1998.

    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory(US)Large Detector


    PEP (Positron-Electron Project) began operation in 1980, with center-of-mass energies up to 29 GeV. At its apex, PEP had five large particle detectors in operation, as well as a sixth smaller detector. About 300 researchers made used of PEP. PEP stopped operating in 1990, and PEP-II began construction in 1994.


    From 1999 to 2008, the main purpose of the linear accelerator was to inject electrons and positrons into the PEP-II accelerator, an electron-positron collider with a pair of storage rings 2.2 km (1.4 mi) in circumference. PEP-II was host to the BaBar experiment, one of the so-called B-Factory experiments studying charge-parity symmetry.

    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory(US) BaBar

    Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

    SLAC plays a primary role in the mission and operation of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, launched in August 2008. The principal scientific objectives of this mission are:

    To understand the mechanisms of particle acceleration in AGNs, pulsars, and SNRs.
    To resolve the gamma-ray sky: unidentified sources and diffuse emission.
    To determine the high-energy behavior of gamma-ray bursts and transients.
    To probe dark matter and fundamental physics.


    The Stanford PULSE Institute (PULSE) is a Stanford Independent Laboratory located in the Central Laboratory at SLAC. PULSE was created by Stanford in 2005 to help Stanford faculty and SLAC scientists develop ultrafast x-ray research at LCLS.

    The Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS)[below] is a free electron laser facility located at SLAC. The LCLS is partially a reconstruction of the last 1/3 of the original linear accelerator at SLAC, and can deliver extremely intense x-ray radiation for research in a number of areas. It achieved first lasing in April 2009.

    The laser produces hard X-rays, 10^9 times the relative brightness of traditional synchrotron sources and is the most powerful x-ray source in the world. LCLS enables a variety of new experiments and provides enhancements for existing experimental methods. Often, x-rays are used to take “snapshots” of objects at the atomic level before obliterating samples. The laser’s wavelength, ranging from 6.2 to 0.13 nm (200 to 9500 electron volts (eV)) is similar to the width of an atom, providing extremely detailed information that was previously unattainable. Additionally, the laser is capable of capturing images with a “shutter speed” measured in femtoseconds, or million-billionths of a second, necessary because the intensity of the beam is often high enough so that the sample explodes on the femtosecond timescale.

    The LCLS-II [below] project is to provide a major upgrade to LCLS by adding two new X-ray laser beams. The new system will utilize the 500 m (1,600 ft) of existing tunnel to add a new superconducting accelerator at 4 GeV and two new sets of undulators that will increase the available energy range of LCLS. The advancement from the discoveries using this new capabilities may include new drugs, next-generation computers, and new materials.


    In 2012, the first two-thirds (~2 km) of the original SLAC LINAC were recommissioned for a new user facility, the Facility for Advanced Accelerator Experimental Tests (FACET). This facility was capable of delivering 20 GeV, 3 nC electron (and positron) beams with short bunch lengths and small spot sizes, ideal for beam-driven plasma acceleration studies. The facility ended operations in 2016 for the constructions of LCLS-II which will occupy the first third of the SLAC LINAC. The FACET-II project will re-establish electron and positron beams in the middle third of the LINAC for the continuation of beam-driven plasma acceleration studies in 2019.

    The Next Linear Collider Test Accelerator (NLCTA) is a 60-120 MeV high-brightness electron beam linear accelerator used for experiments on advanced beam manipulation and acceleration techniques. It is located at SLAC’s end station B

    SSRL and LCLS are DOE Office of Science user facilities.

    Stanford University (US)

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members.

    Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private research university located in Stanford, California. Stanford was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford in memory of their only child, Leland Stanford Jr., who had died of typhoid fever at age 15 the previous year. Stanford is consistently ranked as among the most prestigious and top universities in the world by major education publications. It is also one of the top fundraising institutions in the country, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year.

    Leland Stanford was a U.S. senator and former governor of California who made his fortune as a railroad tycoon. The school admitted its first students on October 1, 1891, as a coeducational and non-denominational institution. Stanford University struggled financially after the death of Leland Stanford in 1893 and again after much of the campus was damaged by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Following World War II, provost Frederick Terman supported faculty and graduates’ entrepreneurialism to build self-sufficient local industry in what would later be known as Silicon Valley.

    The university is organized around seven schools: three schools consisting of 40 academic departments at the undergraduate level as well as four professional schools that focus on graduate programs in law, medicine, education, and business. All schools are on the same campus. Students compete in 36 varsity sports, and the university is one of two private institutions in the Division I FBS Pac-12 Conference. It has gained 126 NCAA team championships, and Stanford has won the NACDA Directors’ Cup for 24 consecutive years, beginning in 1994–1995. In addition, Stanford students and alumni have won 270 Olympic medals including 139 gold medals.

    As of October 2020, 84 Nobel laureates, 28 Turing Award laureates, and eight Fields Medalists have been affiliated with Stanford as students, alumni, faculty, or staff. In addition, Stanford is particularly noted for its entrepreneurship and is one of the most successful universities in attracting funding for start-ups. Stanford alumni have founded numerous companies, which combined produce more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, roughly equivalent to the 7th largest economy in the world (as of 2020). Stanford is the alma mater of one president of the United States (Herbert Hoover), 74 living billionaires, and 17 astronauts. It is also one of the leading producers of Fulbright Scholars, Marshall Scholars, Rhodes Scholars, and members of the United States Congress.

    Stanford University was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford, dedicated to Leland Stanford Jr, their only child. The institution opened in 1891 on Stanford’s previous Palo Alto farm.

    Jane and Leland Stanford modeled their university after the great eastern universities, most specifically Cornell University. Stanford opened being called the “Cornell of the West” in 1891 due to faculty being former Cornell affiliates (either professors, alumni, or both) including its first president, David Starr Jordan, and second president, John Casper Branner. Both Cornell and Stanford were among the first to have higher education be accessible, nonsectarian, and open to women as well as to men. Cornell is credited as one of the first American universities to adopt this radical departure from traditional education, and Stanford became an early adopter as well.

    Despite being impacted by earthquakes in both 1906 and 1989, the campus was rebuilt each time. In 1919, The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace was started by Herbert Hoover to preserve artifacts related to World War I. The Stanford Medical Center, completed in 1959, is a teaching hospital with over 800 beds. The DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory(US)(originally named the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center), established in 1962, performs research in particle physics.


    Most of Stanford is on an 8,180-acre (12.8 sq mi; 33.1 km^2) campus, one of the largest in the United States. It is located on the San Francisco Peninsula, in the northwest part of the Santa Clara Valley (Silicon Valley) approximately 37 miles (60 km) southeast of San Francisco and approximately 20 miles (30 km) northwest of San Jose. In 2008, 60% of this land remained undeveloped.

    Stanford’s main campus includes a census-designated place within unincorporated Santa Clara County, although some of the university land (such as the Stanford Shopping Center and the Stanford Research Park) is within the city limits of Palo Alto. The campus also includes much land in unincorporated San Mateo County (including the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve), as well as in the city limits of Menlo Park (Stanford Hills neighborhood), Woodside, and Portola Valley.

    Non-central campus

    Stanford currently operates in various locations outside of its central campus.

    On the founding grant:

    Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve is a 1,200-acre (490 ha) natural reserve south of the central campus owned by the university and used by wildlife biologists for research.
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is a facility west of the central campus operated by the university for the Department of Energy. It contains the longest linear particle accelerator in the world, 2 miles (3.2 km) on 426 acres (172 ha) of land.
    Golf course and a seasonal lake: The university also has its own golf course and a seasonal lake (Lake Lagunita, actually an irrigation reservoir), both home to the vulnerable California tiger salamander. As of 2012 Lake Lagunita was often dry and the university had no plans to artificially fill it.

    Off the founding grant:

    Hopkins Marine Station, in Pacific Grove, California, is a marine biology research center owned by the university since 1892.
    Study abroad locations: unlike typical study abroad programs, Stanford itself operates in several locations around the world; thus, each location has Stanford faculty-in-residence and staff in addition to students, creating a “mini-Stanford”.

    Redwood City campus for many of the university’s administrative offices located in Redwood City, California, a few miles north of the main campus. In 2005, the university purchased a small, 35-acre (14 ha) campus in Midpoint Technology Park intended for staff offices; development was delayed by The Great Recession. In 2015 the university announced a development plan and the Redwood City campus opened in March 2019.

    The Bass Center in Washington, DC provides a base, including housing, for the Stanford in Washington program for undergraduates. It includes a small art gallery open to the public.

    China: Stanford Center at Peking University, housed in the Lee Jung Sen Building, is a small center for researchers and students in collaboration with Beijing University [北京大学](CN) (Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University(CN) (KIAA-PKU).

    Administration and organization

    Stanford is a private, non-profit university that is administered as a corporate trust governed by a privately appointed board of trustees with a maximum membership of 38. Trustees serve five-year terms (not more than two consecutive terms) and meet five times annually.[83] A new trustee is chosen by the current trustees by ballot. The Stanford trustees also oversee the Stanford Research Park, the Stanford Shopping Center, the Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University Medical Center, and many associated medical facilities (including the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital).

    The board appoints a president to serve as the chief executive officer of the university, to prescribe the duties of professors and course of study, to manage financial and business affairs, and to appoint nine vice presidents. The provost is the chief academic and budget officer, to whom the deans of each of the seven schools report. Persis Drell became the 13th provost in February 2017.

    As of 2018, the university was organized into seven academic schools. The schools of Humanities and Sciences (27 departments), Engineering (nine departments), and Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (four departments) have both graduate and undergraduate programs while the Schools of Law, Medicine, Education and Business have graduate programs only. The powers and authority of the faculty are vested in the Academic Council, which is made up of tenure and non-tenure line faculty, research faculty, senior fellows in some policy centers and institutes, the president of the university, and some other academic administrators, but most matters are handled by the Faculty Senate, made up of 55 elected representatives of the faculty.

    The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) is the student government for Stanford and all registered students are members. Its elected leadership consists of the Undergraduate Senate elected by the undergraduate students, the Graduate Student Council elected by the graduate students, and the President and Vice President elected as a ticket by the entire student body.

    Stanford is the beneficiary of a special clause in the California Constitution, which explicitly exempts Stanford property from taxation so long as the property is used for educational purposes.

    Endowment and donations

    The university’s endowment, managed by the Stanford Management Company, was valued at $27.7 billion as of August 31, 2019. Payouts from the Stanford endowment covered approximately 21.8% of university expenses in the 2019 fiscal year. In the 2018 NACUBO-TIAA survey of colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, only Harvard University(US), the University of Texas System(US), and Yale University(US) had larger endowments than Stanford.

    In 2006, President John L. Hennessy launched a five-year campaign called the Stanford Challenge, which reached its $4.3 billion fundraising goal in 2009, two years ahead of time, but continued fundraising for the duration of the campaign. It concluded on December 31, 2011, having raised a total of $6.23 billion and breaking the previous campaign fundraising record of $3.88 billion held by Yale. Specifically, the campaign raised $253.7 million for undergraduate financial aid, as well as $2.33 billion for its initiative in “Seeking Solutions” to global problems, $1.61 billion for “Educating Leaders” by improving K-12 education, and $2.11 billion for “Foundation of Excellence” aimed at providing academic support for Stanford students and faculty. Funds supported 366 new fellowships for graduate students, 139 new endowed chairs for faculty, and 38 new or renovated buildings. The new funding also enabled the construction of a facility for stem cell research; a new campus for the business school; an expansion of the law school; a new Engineering Quad; a new art and art history building; an on-campus concert hall; a new art museum; and a planned expansion of the medical school, among other things. In 2012, the university raised $1.035 billion, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year.

    Research centers and institutes

    DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory(US)
    Stanford Research Institute, a center of innovation to support economic development in the region.
    Hoover Institution, a conservative American public policy institution and research institution that promotes personal and economic liberty, free enterprise, and limited government.
    Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, a multidisciplinary design school in cooperation with the Hasso Plattner Institute of University of Potsdam [Universität Potsdam](DE) that integrates product design, engineering, and business management education).
    Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, which grew out of and still contains the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project.
    John S. Knight Fellowship for Professional Journalists
    Center for Ocean Solutions
    Together with UC Berkeley(US) and UC San Francisco(US), Stanford is part of the Biohub, a new medical science research center founded in 2016 by a $600 million commitment from Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg and pediatrician Priscilla Chan.

    Discoveries and innovation

    Natural sciences

    Biological synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) – Arthur Kornberg synthesized DNA material and won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1959 for his work at Stanford.
    First Transgenic organism – Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer were the first scientists to transplant genes from one living organism to another, a fundamental discovery for genetic engineering. Thousands of products have been developed on the basis of their work, including human growth hormone and hepatitis B vaccine.
    Laser – Arthur Leonard Schawlow shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics with Nicolaas Bloembergen and Kai Siegbahn for his work on lasers.
    Nuclear magnetic resonance – Felix Bloch developed new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements, which are the underlying principles of the MRI.

    Computer and applied sciences

    ARPANETStanford Research Institute, formerly part of Stanford but on a separate campus, was the site of one of the four original ARPANET nodes.

    Internet—Stanford was the site where the original design of the Internet was undertaken. Vint Cerf led a research group to elaborate the design of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP/IP) that he originally co-created with Robert E. Kahn (Bob Kahn) in 1973 and which formed the basis for the architecture of the Internet.

    Frequency modulation synthesis – John Chowning of the Music department invented the FM music synthesis algorithm in 1967, and Stanford later licensed it to Yamaha Corporation.

    Google – Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both PhD students at Stanford. They were working on the Stanford Digital Library Project (SDLP). The SDLP’s goal was “to develop the enabling technologies for a single, integrated and universal digital library” and it was funded through the National Science Foundation, among other federal agencies.

    Klystron tube – invented by the brothers Russell and Sigurd Varian at Stanford. Their prototype was completed and demonstrated successfully on August 30, 1937. Upon publication in 1939, news of the klystron immediately influenced the work of U.S. and UK researchers working on radar equipment.

    RISCARPA funded VLSI project of microprocessor design. Stanford and UC Berkeley are most associated with the popularization of this concept. The Stanford MIPS would go on to be commercialized as the successful MIPS architecture, while Berkeley RISC gave its name to the entire concept, commercialized as the SPARC. Another success from this era were IBM’s efforts that eventually led to the IBM POWER instruction set architecture, PowerPC, and Power ISA. As these projects matured, a wide variety of similar designs flourished in the late 1980s and especially the early 1990s, representing a major force in the Unix workstation market as well as embedded processors in laser printers, routers and similar products.
    SUN workstation – Andy Bechtolsheim designed the SUN workstation for the Stanford University Network communications project as a personal CAD workstation, which led to Sun Microsystems.

    Businesses and entrepreneurship

    Stanford is one of the most successful universities in creating companies and licensing its inventions to existing companies; it is often held up as a model for technology transfer. Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing is responsible for commercializing university research, intellectual property, and university-developed projects.

    The university is described as having a strong venture culture in which students are encouraged, and often funded, to launch their own companies.

    Companies founded by Stanford alumni generate more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, equivalent to the 10th-largest economy in the world.

    Some companies closely associated with Stanford and their connections include:

    Hewlett-Packard, 1939, co-founders William R. Hewlett (B.S, PhD) and David Packard (M.S).
    Silicon Graphics, 1981, co-founders James H. Clark (Associate Professor) and several of his grad students.
    Sun Microsystems, 1982, co-founders Vinod Khosla (M.B.A), Andy Bechtolsheim (PhD) and Scott McNealy (M.B.A).
    Cisco, 1984, founders Leonard Bosack (M.S) and Sandy Lerner (M.S) who were in charge of Stanford Computer Science and Graduate School of Business computer operations groups respectively when the hardware was developed.[163]
    Yahoo!, 1994, co-founders Jerry Yang (B.S, M.S) and David Filo (M.S).
    Google, 1998, co-founders Larry Page (M.S) and Sergey Brin (M.S).
    LinkedIn, 2002, co-founders Reid Hoffman (B.S), Konstantin Guericke (B.S, M.S), Eric Lee (B.S), and Alan Liu (B.S).
    Instagram, 2010, co-founders Kevin Systrom (B.S) and Mike Krieger (B.S).
    Snapchat, 2011, co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy (B.S).
    Coursera, 2012, co-founders Andrew Ng (Associate Professor) and Daphne Koller (Professor, PhD).

    Student body

    Stanford enrolled 6,996 undergraduate and 10,253 graduate students as of the 2019–2020 school year. Women comprised 50.4% of undergraduates and 41.5% of graduate students. In the same academic year, the freshman retention rate was 99%.

    Stanford awarded 1,819 undergraduate degrees, 2,393 master’s degrees, 770 doctoral degrees, and 3270 professional degrees in the 2018–2019 school year. The four-year graduation rate for the class of 2017 cohort was 72.9%, and the six-year rate was 94.4%. The relatively low four-year graduation rate is a function of the university’s coterminal degree (or “coterm”) program, which allows students to earn a master’s degree as a 1-to-2-year extension of their undergraduate program.

    As of 2010, fifteen percent of undergraduates were first-generation students.


    As of 2016 Stanford had 16 male varsity sports and 20 female varsity sports, 19 club sports and about 27 intramural sports. In 1930, following a unanimous vote by the Executive Committee for the Associated Students, the athletic department adopted the mascot “Indian.” The Indian symbol and name were dropped by President Richard Lyman in 1972, after objections from Native American students and a vote by the student senate. The sports teams are now officially referred to as the “Stanford Cardinal,” referring to the deep red color, not the cardinal bird. Stanford is a member of the Pac-12 Conference in most sports, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in several other sports, and the America East Conference in field hockey with the participation in the inter-collegiate NCAA’s Division I FBS.

    Its traditional sports rival is the University of California, Berkeley, the neighbor to the north in the East Bay. The winner of the annual “Big Game” between the Cal and Cardinal football teams gains custody of the Stanford Axe.

    Stanford has had at least one NCAA team champion every year since the 1976–77 school year and has earned 126 NCAA national team titles since its establishment, the most among universities, and Stanford has won 522 individual national championships, the most by any university. Stanford has won the award for the top-ranked Division 1 athletic program—the NACDA Directors’ Cup, formerly known as the Sears Cup—annually for the past twenty-four straight years. Stanford athletes have won medals in every Olympic Games since 1912, winning 270 Olympic medals total, 139 of them gold. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, and 2016 Summer Olympics, Stanford won more Olympic medals than any other university in the United States. Stanford athletes won 16 medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics (12 gold, two silver and two bronze), and 27 medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics.


    The unofficial motto of Stanford, selected by President Jordan, is Die Luft der Freiheit weht. Translated from the German language, this quotation from Ulrich von Hutten means, “The wind of freedom blows.” The motto was controversial during World War I, when anything in German was suspect; at that time the university disavowed that this motto was official.
    Hail, Stanford, Hail! is the Stanford Hymn sometimes sung at ceremonies or adapted by the various University singing groups. It was written in 1892 by mechanical engineering professor Albert W. Smith and his wife, Mary Roberts Smith (in 1896 she earned the first Stanford doctorate in Economics and later became associate professor of Sociology), but was not officially adopted until after a performance on campus in March 1902 by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
    “Uncommon Man/Uncommon Woman”: Stanford does not award honorary degrees, but in 1953 the degree of “Uncommon Man/Uncommon Woman” was created to recognize individuals who give rare and extraordinary service to the University. Technically, this degree is awarded by the Stanford Associates, a voluntary group that is part of the university’s alumni association. As Stanford’s highest honor, it is not conferred at prescribed intervals, but only when appropriate to recognize extraordinary service. Recipients include Herbert Hoover, Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard, Lucile Packard, and John Gardner.
    Big Game events: The events in the week leading up to the Big Game vs. UC Berkeley, including Gaieties (a musical written, composed, produced, and performed by the students of Ram’s Head Theatrical Society).
    “Viennese Ball”: a formal ball with waltzes that was initially started in the 1970s by students returning from the now-closed Stanford in Vienna overseas program. It is now open to all students.
    “Full Moon on the Quad”: An annual event at Main Quad, where students gather to kiss one another starting at midnight. Typically organized by the Junior class cabinet, the festivities include live entertainment, such as music and dance performances.
    “Band Run”: An annual festivity at the beginning of the school year, where the band picks up freshmen from dorms across campus while stopping to perform at each location, culminating in a finale performance at Main Quad.
    “Mausoleum Party”: An annual Halloween Party at the Stanford Mausoleum, the final resting place of Leland Stanford Jr. and his parents. A 20-year tradition, the “Mausoleum Party” was on hiatus from 2002 to 2005 due to a lack of funding, but was revived in 2006. In 2008, it was hosted in Old Union rather than at the actual Mausoleum, because rain prohibited generators from being rented. In 2009, after fundraising efforts by the Junior Class Presidents and the ASSU Executive, the event was able to return to the Mausoleum despite facing budget cuts earlier in the year.
    Former campus traditions include the “Big Game bonfire” on Lake Lagunita (a seasonal lake usually dry in the fall), which was formally ended in 1997 because of the presence of endangered salamanders in the lake bed.

    Award laureates and scholars

    Stanford’s current community of scholars includes:

    19 Nobel Prize laureates (as of October 2020, 85 affiliates in total)
    171 members of the National Academy of Sciences
    109 members of National Academy of Engineering
    76 members of National Academy of Medicine
    288 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    19 recipients of the National Medal of Science
    1 recipient of the National Medal of Technology
    4 recipients of the National Humanities Medal
    49 members of American Philosophical Society
    56 fellows of the American Physics Society (since 1995)
    4 Pulitzer Prize winners
    31 MacArthur Fellows
    4 Wolf Foundation Prize winners
    2 ACL Lifetime Achievement Award winners
    14 AAAI fellows
    2 Presidential Medal of Freedom winners

    Stanford University Seal

  • richardmitnick 12:35 pm on May 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Energy on Demand-Learning from Nature’s Catalysts", "Janus intermediate", , “Big questions in biocatalysis”-specifically how to control matter and energy., , Catalysis, , , Enzymes: nature’s catalysts, How natural catalysts churn out specific reactions-over and over-in the blink of an eye., Nitrogenase: an enzyme found in soil-dwelling microorganisms that has a unique ability to break apart nitrogen’s triple bond-one of the strongest bonds in nature., , ,   

    From DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (US) : “Energy on Demand-Learning from Nature’s Catalysts” 

    From DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (US)

    April 26, 2021 [Just now in social media.]
    Lynne Roeder, PNNL

    New Energy Sciences Center, quantum chemistry to accelerate enzyme research.

    Nitrogenase. Credit: PNNL.

    About 15 years ago, Simone Raugei started simulating chemistry experiments at the molecular level.

    Today, as part of a top-notch research team aided by advanced computing, Raugei and his colleagues stand primed to crack an important hidden code: nature’s intricate method for releasing energy on demand.

    “We want to know how to funnel energy precisely at the right time, in the right spot, to perform the chemical reaction we want—just like enzymes do in nature,” said Raugei, a computational scientist who leads the physical biosciences research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). “Advances in computing have helped us make tremendous progress in the past five or six years. We now have a critical mass of capabilities and knowledge.”

    The research is part of PNNL’s focus on reinventing chemical conversions, which supports the goals of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences (BES) program. One of the programs’ many goals is to understand, at an atomic level, how natural catalysts churn out specific reactions-over and over-in the blink of an eye.

    The ability to mimic these natural reactions could profoundly improve the design of new synthetic catalysts for producing cleaner and more efficient energy, industrial processes, and materials.

    Raugei described the BES Physical Biosciences program as the visionary effort that brought together individual research groups and experimentalists to collaborate on “big questions in biocatalysis”—specifically, how to control matter and energy.

    The questions don’t get much bigger than that.

    Enzymes: nature’s catalysts

    At PNNL, Raugei teams closely with fellow computational scientists Bojana Ginovska and Marcel Baer to examine the inner workings of enzymes. Found within every living cell, these miniscule multi-taskers direct all sorts of reactions for different functions.

    Through feedback loops between theory, computer simulations, and experimentation among PNNL and university collaborators, the scientists have made steady progress in uncovering the molecular machinations of several types of enzymes. They are particularly interested in nitrogenase, an enzyme found in soil-dwelling microorganisms, that has a unique ability to break apart nitrogen’s triple bond—one of the strongest bonds in nature. That molecular fracture, which occurs in the buried active core of nitrogenase, produces ammonia.

    In the world of commercial chemistry, ammonia is used to make many valuable products, such as fertilizer. But producing ammonia at an industrial scale takes a lot of energy. Much of that energy is spent trying to break nitrogen’s sturdy triple bonds. Figuring out how nature does it so efficiently is key to designing new synthetic catalysts that improve the production process for ammonia and other commercial products.

    Quantum Chemistry. Credit: PNNL.

    Nitrogenase: cracking the code

    About two years ago, the team of PNNL and university scientists isolated the elusive molecular structure inside nitrogenase—called the Janus intermediate—that represents the ‘point of no return’ in the production of ammonia. The researchers found that two negatively charged hydrogens, called hydrides, form bridges with two iron ions. Those bridges allow four extra electrons to park inside the core cluster of atoms.

    The team’s latest research confirmed the shuffling of electrons within the protein environment, packing in enough energy to break apart the nitrogen bonds and form ammonia. Powerful spectroscopy techniques were used to probe the magnetic interactions between electrons in the enzyme’s metallic core. Those interactions were then correlated with quantum simulations of the enzyme’s transformation to yield the molecular structure of the Janus intermediate.

    “The energetics of the electron delivery are amazing,” said Raugei. “When you think of adding electrons into a tiny cluster of atoms, one electron is difficult, two is harder, three is really hard, and to add the fourth is generally considered impossible. But we found that’s how it happens.”

    Lance Seefeldt, a professor at Utah State University (US) who holds a joint appointment at PNNL, leads the experimental work for the team’s nitrogenase research. Another key collaborator, and the “mastermind behind the spectroscopy measurements” according to Raugei, is Brian Hoffman from Northwestern University (US). The team’s most recent findings about nitrogenase were published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society in December 2020.

    Quantum chemistry collaborations

    Ginovska helps direct the day-to-day activities of the group’s postdoctoral researchers working on the project. She credits Raugei with establishing and maintaining connections among the scientific community to spur progress on enzyme research.

    “As a theoretical hub, we collaborate with universities and other national laboratories for the experimental aspects of the research,” said Ginovska. “We started with nitrogenase and it grew from there. We are now working on several enzymatic systems. All of that work is feeding into the same knowledge base.”

    Karl Mueller, chief science and technology officer for PNNL’s Physical and Computational Sciences Directorate, said nitrogenase is a prime example of the challenging problems that can be tackled at a national laboratory through collaboration between experimental and computational scientists, including university researchers. As the scientists prepare to move into PNNL’s new Energy Sciences Center in the fall of 2021, Raugei is confident the enhanced capabilities and collaborative environment will help the team soon crack the remaining code of how nitrogenase forms ammonia.

    “We know that it has to do with adding hydrogen atoms, but how? There are a multitude of possible pathways and that’s what we’re looking into now,” said Raugei. “This is definitely an application where breakthroughs in quantum computing will accelerate our research and elevate our understanding of complex systems.”

    As the pace of scientific progress speeds forward, nitrogenase is just one example of how the promise of quantum chemistry, quantum computing, and PNNL’s Energy Sciences Center could help answer the next big question in catalysis.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) (US) is one of the United States Department of Energy National Laboratories, managed by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The main campus of the laboratory is in Richland, Washington.

    PNNL scientists conduct basic and applied research and development to strengthen U.S. scientific foundations for fundamental research and innovation; prevent and counter acts of terrorism through applied research in information analysis, cyber security, and the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction; increase the U.S. energy capacity and reduce dependence on imported oil; and reduce the effects of human activity on the environment. PNNL has been operated by Battelle Memorial Institute since 1965.

  • richardmitnick 10:12 pm on March 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Instrument at BESSY II shows how light activates molybdenum disulfide layers to become catalysts", , Catalysis, , Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres [Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren](DE)   

    From Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres [Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren](DE): “Instrument at BESSY II shows how light activates molybdenum disulfide layers to become catalysts” 

    From Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres [Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren](DE)

    Dr. Nomi Sorgenfrei
    (030) 8062 – 12924
    (030) 8062 – 14598

    Dr. Antonia Rötger
    (030) 8062 – 43733
    (030) 8062 – 42998

    A new instrument at BESSY II can be used to study molybdenum-sulfide thin films that are of interest as catalysts for solar hydrogen production. A light pulse triggers a phase transition from the semiconducting to the metallic phase and thus enhances the catalytic activity. © Martin Künsting /HZB.

    MoS2 thin films of superposed alternating layers of molybdenum and sulfur atoms form a two-dimensional semiconducting surface. However, even a surprisingly low-intensity blue light pulse is enough to alter the properties of the surface and make it metallic. This has now been demonstrated by a team at BESSY II.

    Enhanced catalytic activity in the metallic phase

    The exciting thing is that the MoS2 layers in this metallic phase are also particularly active catalytically. They can then be employed, for example, as catalysts for splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen. As inexpensive catalysts, they could facilitate the production of hydrogen – an energy carrier whose combustion produces no CO2, only water.

    New at BESSY II: SurfaceDynamics@FemtoSpeX

    Physicist Dr. Nomi Sorgenfrei and her team have constructed a new instrument at BESSY II to precisely measure the changes in samples using temporally-resolved electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (trESCA) when irradiating the samples with low-intensity, ultra-short light pulses. These light pulses are generated at BESSY II using femtosecond time-slicing (femtoslicing) and are therefore both low intensity and extremely short duration. The new instrument, named SurfaceDynamics@FemtoSpeX, can also rapidly obtain meaningful measurements of electron energies, surface chemistry, and transient alterations using these low-intensity light pulses.

    Observation of the phase transition

    Analysis of the empirical data showed that the light pulse leads to a transient accumulation of charge at the surface of the sample, triggering the phase transition at the surface from a semiconducting to a metallic state.

    “This phenomenon should also occur in other representatives of this class of materials, the p-doped semiconducting dichalcogenides, so it opens up possibilities of influencing functionality and catalytic activity in a deliberate way”, Sorgenfrei explains.

    Science paper:
    Photodriven Transient Picosecond Top‐Layer Semiconductor to Metal Phase‐Transition in p‐Doped Molybdenum Disulfide
    Advanced Materials

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres [Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren ](DE)

    The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers(DE) was created in 1995 to formalise existing relationships between several globally-renowned independent research centres. The Helmholtz Association distributes core funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to its, now, 19 autonomous research centers and evaluates their effectiveness against the highest international standards.

  • richardmitnick 2:23 pm on February 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Engineering the boundary between 2D and 3D materials", "Moiré patterns"-Modify properties of some “two dimensional” materials-which are just one or a few atoms thick-by stacking two layers together-rotating one slightly in relation to the other., 4D STEM, A new way of imaging what goes on at these interfaces down to the level of individual atoms., Catalysis, , Correlating the moiré patterns at the 2D-3D boundary with the resulting changes in the material’s properties., , Harvard University(US), Integrated differential phase contrast, Little has been known about what happens where 2D materials meet regular 3D solids., Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US), , , Moiré patterns change the way electrons move through the material in potentially useful ways., , , STEM-Scanning Tunneling Electron Microscopy, Such two-dimensional materials must at some point connect with the ordinary world of 3D materials., The findings could help lead to improved kinds of junctions in some microchips., The team then had to figure out how to reveal the atomic configurations and orientations of the different layers., University of Victoria(CA)   

    From Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US): “Engineering the boundary between 2D and 3D materials” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    February 26, 2021
    David L. Chandler

    Cutting-edge microscope helps reveal ways to control the electronic properties of atomically thin materials.

    These images of “islands” of gold atoms deposited on a layer of two-dimensional molybdenum sulfide were produced by two different modes, using a new scanning tunneling electron microscope (STEM) in the new MIT.nano facility. By combining the data from the two different modes the researchers were able to figure out the three-dimensional arrangement of atoms where the two materials meet.
    Credit: The researchers.

    In recent years, engineers have found ways to modify the properties of some “two- dimensional” materials- which are just one or a few atoms thick- by stacking two layers together and rotating one slightly in relation to the other. This creates what are known as moiré patterns, where tiny shifts in the alignment of atoms between the two sheets create larger-scale patterns. It also changes the way electrons move through the material in potentially useful ways.

    But for practical applications, such two-dimensional materials must at some point connect with the ordinary world of 3D materials. An international team led by MIT researchers has now come up with a way of imaging what goes on at these interfaces down to the level of individual atoms, and of correlating the moiré patterns at the 2D-3D boundary with the resulting changes in the material’s properties.

    The new findings are described today in the journal Nature Communications, in a paper by Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US) graduate students Kate Reidy and Georgios Varnavides, professors of materials science and engineering Frances Ross, Jim LeBeau, and Polina Anikeeva, and five others at Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US) , Harvard University(US), and the University of Victoria(CA).

    Pairs of two-dimensional materials such as graphene or hexagonal boron nitride can exhibit amazing variations in their behavior when the two sheets are just slightly twisted relative to each other. That causes the chicken-wire-like atomic lattices to form moiré patterns, the kinds of odd bands and blobs that sometimes appear when taking a picture of a printed image, or through a window screen. In the case of 2D materials, “it seems like anything, every interesting materials property you can think of, you can somehow modulate or change by twisting the 2D materials with respect to each other,” says Ross, who is the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor at MIT.

    While these 2D pairings have attracted scientific attention worldwide, she says, little has been known about what happens where 2D materials meet regular 3D solids. “What got us interested in this topic,” Ross says, was “what happens when a 2D material and a 3D material are put together. Firstly, how do you measure the atomic positions at, and near, the interface? Secondly, what are the differences between a 3D-2D and a 2D-2D interface? And thirdly, how you might control it — is there a way to deliberately design the interfacial structure” to produce desired properties?

    Figuring out exactly what happens at such 2D-3D interfaces was a daunting challenge because electron microscopes produce an image of the sample in projection, and they’re limited in their ability to extract depth information needed to analyze details of the interface structure. But the team figured out a set of algorithms that allowed them to extrapolate back from images of the sample, which look somewhat like a set of overlapping shadows, to figure out which configuration of stacked layers would yield that complex “shadow.”

    The team made use of two unique transmission electron microscopes at MIT that enable a combination of capabilities that is unrivalled in the world. In one of these instruments, a microscope is connected directly to a fabrication system so that samples can be produced onsite by deposition processes and immediately fed straight into the imaging system. This is one of only a few such facilities worldwide, which use an ultrahigh vacuum system that prevents even the tiniest of impurities from contaminating the sample as the 2D-3D interface is being prepared. The second instrument is a scanning transmission electron microscope located in MIT’s new research facility, MIT.nano. This microscope has outstanding stability for high-resolution imaging, as well as multiple imaging modes for collecting information about the sample.

    Unlike stacked 2D materials, whose orientations can be relatively easily changed by simply picking up one layer, twisting it slightly, and placing it down again, the bonds holding 3D materials together are much stronger, so the team had to develop new ways of obtaining aligned layers. To do this, they added the 3D material onto the 2D material in ultrahigh vacuum, choosing growth conditions where the layers self-assembled in a reproducible orientation with specific degrees of twist. “We had to grow a structure that was going to be aligned in a certain way,” Reidy says.

    Having grown the materials, they then had to figure out how to reveal the atomic configurations and orientations of the different layers. A scanning transmission electron microscope actually produces more information than is apparent in a flat image; in fact, every point in the image contains details of the paths along which the electrons arrived and departed (the process of diffraction), as well as any energy that the electrons lost in the process. All these data can be separated out so that the information at all points in an image can be used to decode the actual solid structure. This process is only possible for state-of-the-art microscopes, such as that in MIT.nano, which generates a probe of electrons that is unusually narrow and precise.

    The researchers used a combination of techniques called 4D STEM and integrated differential phase contrast to achieve that process of extracting the full structure at the interface from the image. Then, Varnavides says, they asked, “Now that we can image the full structure at the interface, what does this mean for our understanding of the properties of this interface?” The researchers showed through modeling that electronic properties are expected to be modified in a way that can only be understood if the full structure of the interface is included in the physical theory. “What we found is that indeed this stacking, the way the atoms are stacked out-of-plane, does modulate the electronic and charge density properties,” he says.

    Ross says the findings could help lead to improved kinds of junctions in some microchips, for example. “Every 2D material that’s used in a device has to exist in the 3D world, and so it has to have a junction somehow with three-dimensional materials,” she says. So, with this better understanding of those interfaces, and new ways to study them in action, “we’re in good shape for making structures with desirable properties in a kind of planned rather than ad hoc way.”

    “The present work opens a field by itself, allowing the application of this methodology to the growing research line of moiré engineering, highly important in fields such as quantum physics or even in catalysis,” says Jordi Arbiol of the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology [Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia -ICN2] at The Autonomous University of Barcelona [Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona](ES) in Spain, who was not associated with this work.

    “The methodology used has the potential to calculate from the acquired local diffraction patterns the modulation of the local electron momentum,” he says, adding that “the methodology and research shown here has an outstanding future and high interest for the materials science community.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Seal

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private land-grant research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The institute has an urban campus that extends more than a mile (1.6 km) alongside the Charles River. The institute also encompasses a number of major off-campus facilities such as the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the Bates Center, and the Haystack Observatory, as well as affiliated laboratories such as the Broad and Whitehead Institutes.

    MIT Haystack Observatory, Westford, Massachusetts, USA, Altitude 131 m (430 ft).

    Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. It has since played a key role in the development of many aspects of modern science, engineering, mathematics, and technology, and is widely known for its innovation and academic strength. It is frequently regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

    As of December 2020, 97 Nobel laureates, 26 Turing Award winners, and 8 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT as alumni, faculty members, or researchers. In addition, 58 National Medal of Science recipients, 29 National Medals of Technology and Innovation recipients, 50 MacArthur Fellows, 80 Marshall Scholars, 3 Mitchell Scholars, 22 Schwarzman Scholars, 41 astronauts, and 16 Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force have been affiliated with MIT. The university also has a strong entrepreneurial culture and MIT alumni have founded or co-founded many notable companies. MIT is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU).

    Foundation and vision

    In 1859, a proposal was submitted to the Massachusetts General Court to use newly filled lands in Back Bay, Boston for a “Conservatory of Art and Science”, but the proposal failed. A charter for the incorporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, proposed by William Barton Rogers, was signed by John Albion Andrew, the governor of Massachusetts, on April 10, 1861.

    Rogers, a professor from the University of Virginia, wanted to establish an institution to address rapid scientific and technological advances. He did not wish to found a professional school, but a combination with elements of both professional and liberal education, proposing that:

    The true and only practicable object of a polytechnic school is, as I conceive, the teaching, not of the minute details and manipulations of the arts, which can be done only in the workshop, but the inculcation of those scientific principles which form the basis and explanation of them, and along with this, a full and methodical review of all their leading processes and operations in connection with physical laws.

    The Rogers Plan reflected the German research university model, emphasizing an independent faculty engaged in research, as well as instruction oriented around seminars and laboratories.

    Early developments

    Two days after MIT was chartered, the first battle of the Civil War broke out. After a long delay through the war years, MIT’s first classes were held in the Mercantile Building in Boston in 1865. The new institute was founded as part of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act to fund institutions “to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes” and was a land-grant school. In 1863 under the same act, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts founded the Massachusetts Agricultural College, which developed as the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 1866, the proceeds from land sales went toward new buildings in the Back Bay.

    MIT was informally called “Boston Tech”. The institute adopted the European polytechnic university model and emphasized laboratory instruction from an early date. Despite chronic financial problems, the institute saw growth in the last two decades of the 19th century under President Francis Amasa Walker. Programs in electrical, chemical, marine, and sanitary engineering were introduced, new buildings were built, and the size of the student body increased to more than one thousand.

    The curriculum drifted to a vocational emphasis, with less focus on theoretical science. The fledgling school still suffered from chronic financial shortages which diverted the attention of the MIT leadership. During these “Boston Tech” years, MIT faculty and alumni rebuffed Harvard University president (and former MIT faculty) Charles W. Eliot’s repeated attempts to merge MIT with Harvard College’s Lawrence Scientific School. There would be at least six attempts to absorb MIT into Harvard. In its cramped Back Bay location, MIT could not afford to expand its overcrowded facilities, driving a desperate search for a new campus and funding. Eventually, the MIT Corporation approved a formal agreement to merge with Harvard, over the vehement objections of MIT faculty, students, and alumni. However, a 1917 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court effectively put an end to the merger scheme.

    In 1916, the MIT administration and the MIT charter crossed the Charles River on the ceremonial barge Bucentaur built for the occasion, to signify MIT’s move to a spacious new campus largely consisting of filled land on a one-mile-long (1.6 km) tract along the Cambridge side of the Charles River. The neoclassical “New Technology” campus was designed by William W. Bosworth and had been funded largely by anonymous donations from a mysterious “Mr. Smith”, starting in 1912. In January 1920, the donor was revealed to be the industrialist George Eastman of Rochester, New York, who had invented methods of film production and processing, and founded Eastman Kodak. Between 1912 and 1920, Eastman donated $20 million ($236.6 million in 2015 dollars) in cash and Kodak stock to MIT.
    Curricular reforms

    In the 1930s, President Karl Taylor Compton and Vice-President (effectively Provost) Vannevar Bush emphasized the importance of pure sciences like physics and chemistry and reduced the vocational practice required in shops and drafting studios. The Compton reforms “renewed confidence in the ability of the Institute to develop leadership in science as well as in engineering”. Unlike Ivy League schools, MIT catered more to middle-class families, and depended more on tuition than on endowments or grants for its funding. The school was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1934.

    Still, as late as 1949, the Lewis Committee lamented in its report on the state of education at MIT that “the Institute is widely conceived as basically a vocational school”, a “partly unjustified” perception the committee sought to change. The report comprehensively reviewed the undergraduate curriculum, recommended offering a broader education, and warned against letting engineering and government-sponsored research detract from the sciences and humanities. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and the MIT Sloan School of Management were formed in 1950 to compete with the powerful Schools of Science and Engineering. Previously marginalized faculties in the areas of economics, management, political science, and linguistics emerged into cohesive and assertive departments by attracting respected professors and launching competitive graduate programs. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences continued to develop under the successive terms of the more humanistically oriented presidents Howard W. Johnson and Jerome Wiesner between 1966 and 1980.

    MIT’s involvement in military science surged during World War II. In 1941, Vannevar Bush was appointed head of the federal Office of Scientific Research and Development and directed funding to only a select group of universities, including MIT. Engineers and scientists from across the country gathered at MIT’s Radiation Laboratory, established in 1940 to assist the British military in developing microwave radar. The work done there significantly affected both the war and subsequent research in the area. Other defense projects included gyroscope-based and other complex control systems for gunsight, bombsight, and inertial navigation under Charles Stark Draper’s Instrumentation Laboratory; the development of a digital computer for flight simulations under Project Whirlwind; and high-speed and high-altitude photography under Harold Edgerton. By the end of the war, MIT became the nation’s largest wartime R&D contractor (attracting some criticism of Bush), employing nearly 4000 in the Radiation Laboratory alone and receiving in excess of $100 million ($1.2 billion in 2015 dollars) before 1946. Work on defense projects continued even after then. Post-war government-sponsored research at MIT included SAGE and guidance systems for ballistic missiles and Project Apollo.

    These activities affected MIT profoundly. A 1949 report noted the lack of “any great slackening in the pace of life at the Institute” to match the return to peacetime, remembering the “academic tranquility of the prewar years”, though acknowledging the significant contributions of military research to the increased emphasis on graduate education and rapid growth of personnel and facilities. The faculty doubled and the graduate student body quintupled during the terms of Karl Taylor Compton, president of MIT between 1930 and 1948; James Rhyne Killian, president from 1948 to 1957; and Julius Adams Stratton, chancellor from 1952 to 1957, whose institution-building strategies shaped the expanding university. By the 1950s, MIT no longer simply benefited the industries with which it had worked for three decades, and it had developed closer working relationships with new patrons, philanthropic foundations and the federal government.

    In late 1960s and early 1970s, student and faculty activists protested against the Vietnam War and MIT’s defense research. In this period MIT’s various departments were researching helicopters, smart bombs and counterinsurgency techniques for the war in Vietnam as well as guidance systems for nuclear missiles. The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded on March 4, 1969 during a meeting of faculty members and students seeking to shift the emphasis on military research toward environmental and social problems. MIT ultimately divested itself from the Instrumentation Laboratory and moved all classified research off-campus to the MIT Lincoln Laboratory facility in 1973 in response to the protests. The student body, faculty, and administration remained comparatively unpolarized during what was a tumultuous time for many other universities. Johnson was seen to be highly successful in leading his institution to “greater strength and unity” after these times of turmoil. However six MIT students were sentenced to prison terms at this time and some former student leaders, such as Michael Albert and George Katsiaficas, are still indignant about MIT’s role in military research and its suppression of these protests. (Richard Leacock’s film, November Actions, records some of these tumultuous events.)

    In the 1980s, there was more controversy at MIT over its involvement in SDI (space weaponry) and CBW (chemical and biological warfare) research. More recently, MIT’s research for the military has included work on robots, drones and ‘battle suits’.

    Recent history

    MIT has kept pace with and helped to advance the digital age. In addition to developing the predecessors to modern computing and networking technologies, students, staff, and faculty members at Project MAC, the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and the Tech Model Railroad Club wrote some of the earliest interactive computer video games like Spacewar! and created much of modern hacker slang and culture. Several major computer-related organizations have originated at MIT since the 1980s: Richard Stallman’s GNU Project and the subsequent Free Software Foundation were founded in the mid-1980s at the AI Lab; the MIT Media Lab was founded in 1985 by Nicholas Negroponte and Jerome Wiesner to promote research into novel uses of computer technology; the World Wide Web Consortium standards organization was founded at the Laboratory for Computer Science in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee; the OpenCourseWare project has made course materials for over 2,000 MIT classes available online free of charge since 2002; and the One Laptop per Child initiative to expand computer education and connectivity to children worldwide was launched in 2005.

    MIT was named a sea-grant college in 1976 to support its programs in oceanography and marine sciences and was named a space-grant college in 1989 to support its aeronautics and astronautics programs. Despite diminishing government financial support over the past quarter century, MIT launched several successful development campaigns to significantly expand the campus: new dormitories and athletics buildings on west campus; the Tang Center for Management Education; several buildings in the northeast corner of campus supporting research into biology, brain and cognitive sciences, genomics, biotechnology, and cancer research; and a number of new “backlot” buildings on Vassar Street including the Stata Center. Construction on campus in the 2000s included expansions of the Media Lab, the Sloan School’s eastern campus, and graduate residences in the northwest. In 2006, President Hockfield launched the MIT Energy Research Council to investigate the interdisciplinary challenges posed by increasing global energy consumption.

    In 2001, inspired by the open source and open access movements, MIT launched OpenCourseWare to make the lecture notes, problem sets, syllabi, exams, and lectures from the great majority of its courses available online for no charge, though without any formal accreditation for coursework completed. While the cost of supporting and hosting the project is high, OCW expanded in 2005 to include other universities as a part of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, which currently includes more than 250 academic institutions with content available in at least six languages. In 2011, MIT announced it would offer formal certification (but not credits or degrees) to online participants completing coursework in its “MITx” program, for a modest fee. The “edX” online platform supporting MITx was initially developed in partnership with Harvard and its analogous “Harvardx” initiative. The courseware platform is open source, and other universities have already joined and added their own course content. In March 2009 the MIT faculty adopted an open-access policy to make its scholarship publicly accessible online.

    MIT has its own police force. Three days after the Boston Marathon bombing of April 2013, MIT Police patrol officer Sean Collier was fatally shot by the suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, setting off a violent manhunt that shut down the campus and much of the Boston metropolitan area for a day. One week later, Collier’s memorial service was attended by more than 10,000 people, in a ceremony hosted by the MIT community with thousands of police officers from the New England region and Canada. On November 25, 2013, MIT announced the creation of the Collier Medal, to be awarded annually to “an individual or group that embodies the character and qualities that Officer Collier exhibited as a member of the MIT community and in all aspects of his life”. The announcement further stated that “Future recipients of the award will include those whose contributions exceed the boundaries of their profession, those who have contributed to building bridges across the community, and those who consistently and selflessly perform acts of kindness”.

    In September 2017, the school announced the creation of an artificial intelligence research lab called the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. IBM will spend $240 million over the next decade, and the lab will be staffed by MIT and IBM scientists. In October 2018 MIT announced that it would open a new Schwarzman College of Computing dedicated to the study of artificial intelligence, named after lead donor and The Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman. The focus of the new college is to study not just AI, but interdisciplinary AI education, and how AI can be used in fields as diverse as history and biology. The cost of buildings and new faculty for the new college is expected to be $1 billion upon completion.

    The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) was designed and constructed by a team of scientists from California Institute of Technology, MIT, and industrial contractors, and funded by the National Science Foundation.

    MIT/Caltech Advanced aLigo .

    It was designed to open the field of gravitational-wave astronomy through the detection of gravitational waves predicted by general relativity. Gravitational waves were detected for the first time by the LIGO detector in 2015. For contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves, two Caltech physicists, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish, and MIT physicist Rainer Weiss won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2017. Weiss, who is also an MIT graduate, designed the laser interferometric technique, which served as the essential blueprint for the LIGO.

    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

    USPS “Forever” postage stamps celebrating Innovation at MIT.

    MIT Campus

  • richardmitnick 2:47 pm on February 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Building bridges between atoms and making catalysts of high quality", , Catalysis, , , , Single-atom catalysts have shown enormous catalyzing capability since its first appearance., , What the scientists did is to apply the substitutional doping method of magnetic Co ions to prepare samples of Co-doping MoS2 monolayer.   

    From University of Science and Technology of China [中国科学技术大学 Zhōngguó kēxué jìshù dàxué](CN) via phys.org: “Building bridges between atoms and making catalysts of high quality” 

    From University of Science and Technology of China [中国科学技术大学 Zhōngguó kēxué jìshù dàxué](CN)



    February 25, 2021
    Credit: CC0 Public Domain

    Similar to the fact that a person would act differently when being alone, materials can also obtain unique qualities when being separated in atom-level, among which is the enhanced catalyzing ability.

    Single-atom catalysts have shown enormous catalyzing capability since its first appearance. By preparing 2-dimensional (2-D) single-atom monolayer crystals, scientists can expect to get catalysts with high loading density of active sites as well as great stability. However, the question herein is that only the edge atoms in the 2-D monolayer have shown this effect while most of the atoms are inside the basal plane, which is critically limiting the efficiency of catalysts in this form.

    In a new study published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Prof. YAN Wensheng’s team from the National Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory of the University of Science and Technology of China [中国科学技术大学 Zhōngguó kēxué jìshù dàxué](CN) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences [中国科学院](CN), and the collaborators, established bridges between atoms and made catalysts of high quality.

    What the scientists did is to apply the substitutional doping method of magnetic Co ions to prepare samples of Co-doping MoS2 monolayer, denoted as Co-MoS2, and then characterize and examine its catalyzing effect on electrochemical hydrogen evolution reaction (HER).

    The doped Co ions act as bridges between sulfate atoms, connecting S atoms in the edge region and basal plane and thus, inducing ferromagnetic ordering in Co-MoS2. The highly mixed electron pattern between Co and S atoms enables the S inside the plane to become active sites during the catalyzing procedure.

    They conducted experiments to confirm a dramatically increased exchange current density during HER in acid electrolyte, suggesting the greatly enhanced electrical catalyzing effect of MoS2 compared with former results.

    This study can be generalized to other 2-D monolayers which could be developed as single-atom-layer catalysts by arousing the originally inert basal plane atoms via manipulating the ferromagnetism. Like magicians of processing, these catalysts can change how reactions operate.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Science and Technology of China [中国科学技术大学 Zhōngguó kēxué jìshù dàxué](CN) is a national research university in Hefei, Anhui, China, under the direct leadership of the Chinese Academy of Sciences [中国科学院](CN). It is a member of the C9 League, China’s equivalent of the Ivy League. It is also a Chinese Ministry of Education Class A Double First Class University. Founded in Beijing by the CAS in September 1958, it was moved to Hefei in the beginning of 1970 during the Cultural Revolution.

    USTC was founded with the mission of addressing urgent needs to improve China’s economy, defense infrastructure, and science and technology education. Its core strength is scientific and technological research, and more recently has expanded into humanities and management with a strong scientific and engineering emphasis. USTC has 12 schools, 30 departments, the Special Class for the Gifted Young, the Experimental Class for Teaching Reform, Graduate Schools (Hefei, Shanghai, Suzhou), a Software School, a School of Network Education, and a School of Continuing Education. In 2012 the Institute of Advanced Technology, University of Science and Technology of China was founded.

    USTC was founded in Beijing by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in September 1958. The Director of CAS, Mr. Guo Moruo was appointed the first president of USTC. USTC’s founding mission was to develop a high-level science and technology workforce, as deemed critical for development of China’s economy, defense, and science and technology education. The establishment was hailed as “A Major Event in the History of Chinese Education and Science.” CAS has supported USTC by combining most of its institutes with the departments of the university. USTC is listed in the top 16 national key universities, becoming the youngest national key university.

    In 1969, during the Cultural Revolution, USTC was moved to Anhui province and eventually settled in Hefei in 1970.

    USTC set up the Special Class for the Gifted Young and the first graduate school in China in 1978. The campus for graduate study in Hefei was established in 1986. Original campus for graduate study in Beijing was later renamed the Graduate School of the CAS in 2001 and University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2012.

    In 1995, USTC was amongst the first batch of universities obtaining support through the National 9th Five-Year Plan and the “Project 211”. In 1999, USTC was singled out as one of the 9 universities enjoying priority support from the nation’s “Plan of Vitalizing Education Action Geared to the 21st Century”. Since September 2002, USTC has been implementing its “Project 211” construction during the 10th National Development Plan.

  • richardmitnick 1:13 pm on February 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Study shows tweaking one layer of atoms on a catalyst’s surface can make it work better", , Building materials one atomic layer at a time., Catalysis, Catalysts help molecules react without being consumed in the reaction so they can be used over and over., , , , Scientists crafting a nickel-based catalyst used in making hydrogen fuel built it one atomic layer at a time to gain full control over its chemical properties., Splitting water to make hydrogen fuel., Tuning a catalyst’s surface for better performance.   

    From DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory: “Study shows tweaking one layer of atoms on a catalyst’s surface can make it work better” 

    From DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    January 11, 2021 [Just now in social media.]
    Glennda Chui

    The surprising results offer a way to boost the activity and stability of catalysts for making hydrogen fuel from water.

    Credit: SLAC.

    An illustration combines two possible types of surface layers for a catalyst that performs the water-splitting reaction, the first step in making hydrogen fuel. The gray surface, top, is lanthanum oxide. The colorful surface is nickel oxide; a rearrangement of its atoms while carrying out the reaction made it twice as efficient, a phenomenon researchers hope to harness to design better catalysts. Lanthanum atoms are depicted in green, nickel in blue and oxygen in red. Credit: CUBE3D Graphic.

    A new study shows how tweaking the surface layer of a catalyst can make it work better. This particular catalyst is used to split water, the first step in making hydrogen fuel. It consists of alternating layers of materials rich in nickel (blue spheres) and lanthanum (green spheres; the red spheres represent oxygen atoms). When the material is grown at relatively cool temperatures so a nickel-rich layer is on top (left), the atoms on that surface layer rearrange during the water-splitting reaction (middle) in a way that allows them to carry out the reaction more efficiently (right). This surprising result gives scientists a new way to tune catalytic activity and engineer better catalysts. Credit:Tomas Duchon/Jülich Research Centre [Forschungszentrum Jülichs] (FZJ)(DE)[DE]).

    Scientists crafting a nickel-based catalyst used in making hydrogen fuel built it one atomic layer at a time to gain full control over its chemical properties. But the finished material didn’t behave as they expected: As one version of the catalyst went about its work, the top-most layer of atoms rearranged to form a new pattern, as if the square tiles that cover a floor had suddenly changed to hexagons.

    But that’s ok, they reported today, because understanding and controlling this surprising transformation gives them a new way to turn catalytic activity on and off and make good catalysts even better.

    The research team, led by scientists from Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, described their study in Nature Materials today.

    “Catalysts can change very quickly during the course of a reaction, and understanding how they transform from an inactive phase to an active one is crucial to designing more efficient catalysts,” said Will Chueh, an investigator with the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES) at SLAC who led the study. “This transformation gives us the equivalent of a knob we can turn to fine-tune their behavior.”

    Splitting water to make hydrogen fuel

    Catalysts help molecules react without being consumed in the reaction, so they can be used over and over. They’re the backbone of many green-energy devices.

    This particular catalyst, lanthanum nickel oxide or LNO, is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen in a reaction powered by electricity. It’s the first step in generating hydrogen fuel, which has enormous potential for storing renewable energy from sunlight and other sources in a liquid form that’s energy-rich and easy to transport. In fact, several manufacturers have already produced electric cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

    But this first step is also the most difficult one, said Michal Bajdich, a theorist at the SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis at SLAC, and researchers have been searching for inexpensive materials that will carry it out more efficiently.

    Since reactions take place on a catalyst’s surface, researchers have been trying to precisely engineer those surfaces so they promote only one specific chemical reaction with high efficiency.

    Building materials one atomic layer at a time

    The LNO investigated in this study belongs to a class of promising catalytic materials known as perovskites, named after a natural mineral with a similar atomic structure.

    Christoph Baeumer, who came to SLAC as a Marie Curie Fellow from RWTH Aachen University [Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen] (DE) to carry out the study, prepared LNO in what’s known as an epitaxial thin film – a film grown in atomically thin layers in a way that creates an extraordinarily precise arrangement of atoms.

    Dividing his time between California and Germany, Baeumer made two versions of the film at different temperatures ­­– one with a nickel-rich surface and another with a lanthanum-rich surface. Then the research team ran all the versions through the water-splitting reaction to compare how well they performed.

    “We were surprised to discover that the films with nickel-rich surfaces carried out the reaction twice as fast,” Baeumer said.

    Tuning a catalyst’s surface for better performance

    To find out why, the team took the films to DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where a group led by Slavomír Nemšák looked at their atomic structure with X-rays at the Advanced Light Source.

    LBNL ALS .

    “It was surprising that the difference between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ catalyst was only in the last atomic layer of the films,” Nemšák said. Those investigations also revealed that in films with nickel-rich surface layers that were prepared at cooler temperatures, the top layer of atoms transformed at some point during the water-splitting reaction, and this new arrangement boosted the catalytic activity.

    Meanwhile, Jiang Li, a postdoctoral researcher and theorist at SUNCAT, performed computational studies of this very complex system using Berkeley Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC).

    National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

    NERSC Cray Cori II supercomputer, named after Gerty Cori, the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science.

    NERSC Hopper Cray XE6 supercomputer, named after Grace Hopper, One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer.

    NERSC Cray XC30 Edison supercomputer.

    NERSC GPFS for Life Sciences.

    The Genepool system is a cluster dedicated to the DOE Joint Genome Institute’s computing needs. Denovo is a smaller test system for Genepool that is primarily used by NERSC staff to test new system configurations and software.

    NERSC PDSF computer cluster in 2003.

    PDSF is a networked distributed computing cluster designed primarily to meet the detector simulation and data analysis requirements of physics, astrophysics and nuclear science collaborations.


    Cray Shasta Perlmutter SC18 AMD Epyc Nvidia pre-exascale supeercomputer

    NERSC is a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

    His conclusions agreed with the experimental results, predicting that the version of the catalyst with the transformed surface – from a cubic pattern to a hexagonal one – would be the most active and stable one.

    Bajdich said, “Is the transformation of the nickel-rich surface driven by the way the catalyst is prepared, or by changes it undergoes while it carries out the water-splitting reaction? That’s very hard to answer. It looks like both have to occur.”

    Although this particular catalyst is not the best in the world for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, he said, discovering how a surface transformation boosts its activity is important and could potentially apply to other materials too.

    “If we can unlock the secrets of this transformation so we can accurately tune it,” he said, “then we can leverage this phenomenon to make much better catalysts in the future.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.

    SLAC National Accelerator Lab


    SLAC/LCLS II projected view

    SLAC LCLS-II Undulators The Linac Coherent Light Source’s new undulators each use an intricately tuned series of magnets to convert electron energy into intense bursts of X-rays. The “soft” X-ray undulator stretches for 100 meters on the left side of this hall, with the “hard” x-ray undulator on the right. Credit: Alberto Gamazo/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

    SSRL and LCLS are DOE Office of Science user facilities.

  • richardmitnick 10:01 am on January 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Capturing and converting carbon dioxide from power plant emissions., Carbon dioxide sequestration, Catalysis, Electrochemical reactions, , In a series of lab experiments the rate of the carbon conversion reaction nearly doubled., , , The new system produced two new potentially useful carbon compounds: acetone and acetate   

    From MIT: “Boosting the efficiency of carbon capture and conversion systems” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    January 25, 2021
    David L. Chandler

    Dyes are used to reveal the concentration levels of carbon dioxide in the water. On the left side is a gas-attracting material, and the dye shows the carbon dioxide stays concentrated next to the catalyst. Credit: Varanasi Research Group.

    Systems for capturing and converting carbon dioxide from power plant emissions could be important tools for curbing climate change, but most are relatively inefficient and expensive. Now, researchers at MIT have developed a method that could significantly boost the performance of systems that use catalytic surfaces to enhance the rates of carbon-sequestering electrochemical reactions.

    Such catalytic systems are an attractive option for carbon capture because they can produce useful, valuable products, such as transportation fuels or chemical feedstocks. This output can help to subsidize the process, offsetting the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    In these systems, typically a stream of gas containing carbon dioxide passes through water to deliver carbon dioxide for the electrochemical reaction. The movement through water is sluggish, which slows the rate of conversion of the carbon dioxide. The new design ensures that the carbon dioxide stream stays concentrated in the water right next to the catalyst surface. This concentration, the researchers have shown, can nearly double the performance of the system.

    The results are described today in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science in a paper by MIT postdoc Sami Khan PhD ’19, who is now an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University, along with MIT professors of mechanical engineering Kripa Varanasi and Yang Shao-Horn, and recent graduate Jonathan Hwang PhD ’19.

    “Carbon dioxide sequestration is the challenge of our times,” Varanasi says. There are a number of approaches, including geological sequestration, ocean storage, mineralization, and chemical conversion. When it comes to making useful, saleable products out of this greenhouse gas, electrochemical conversion is particularly promising, but it still needs improvements to become economically viable. “The goal of our work was to understand what’s the big bottleneck in this process, and to improve or mitigate that bottleneck,” he says.

    The bottleneck turned out to involve the delivery of the carbon dioxide to the catalytic surface that promotes the desired chemical transformations, the researchers found. In these electrochemical systems, the stream of carbon dioxide-containing gases is mixed with water, either under pressure or by bubbling it through a container outfitted with electrodes of a catalyst material such as copper. A voltage is then applied to promote chemical reactions producing carbon compounds that can be transformed into fuels or other products.

    There are two challenges in such systems: The reaction can proceed so fast that it uses up the supply of carbon dioxide reaching the catalyst more quickly than it can be replenished; and if that happens, a competing reaction — the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen — can take over and sap much of the energy being put into the reaction.

    Previous efforts to optimize these reactions by texturing the catalyst surfaces to increase the surface area for reactions had failed to deliver on their expectations, because the carbon dioxide supply to the surface couldn’t keep up with the increased reaction rate, thereby switching to hydrogen production over time.

    The researchers addressed these problems through the use of a gas-attracting surface placed in close proximity to the catalyst material. This material is a specially textured “gasphilic,” superhydrophobic material that repels water but allows a smooth layer of gas called a plastron to stay close along its surface. It keeps the incoming flow of carbon dioxide right up against the catalyst so that the desired carbon dioxide conversion reactions can be maximized.

    On the left, a bubble strikes a specially textured gas-attracting surface, and spreads out across the surface, while on the right a bubble strikes an untreated surface and just bounces away. The treated surface is used in the new work to keep the carbon dioxide close to a catalyst. Credit: Varanasi Research Group.

    By using dye-based pH indicators, the researchers were able to visualize carbon dioxide concentration gradients in the test cell and show that the enhanced concentration of carbon dioxide emanates from the plastron.

    Here, dyes are used to reveal the concentration levels of carbon dioxide in the water. Green shows areas where the carbon dioxide is more concentrated, and blue shows areas where it is depleted. The green region at left shows the carbon dioxide staying concentrated next to the catalyst, thanks to the gas-attracting material. Credit: Varanasi Research Group.

    In a series of lab experiments using this setup, the rate of the carbon conversion reaction nearly doubled. It was also sustained over time, whereas in previous experiments the reaction quickly faded out. The system produced high rates of ethylene, propanol, and ethanol — a potential automotive fuel. Meanwhile, the competing hydrogen evolution was sharply curtailed. Although the new work makes it possible to fine-tune the system to produce the desired mix of product, in some applications, optimizing for hydrogen production as a fuel might be the desired result, which can also be done.

    “The important metric is selectivity,” Khan says, referring to the ability to generate valuable compounds that will be produced by a given mix of materials, textures, and voltages, and to adjust the configuration according to the desired output.

    By concentrating the carbon dioxide next to the catalyst surface, the new system also produced two new potentially useful carbon compounds, acetone, and acetate, that had not previously been detected in any such electrochemical systems at appreciable rates.

    In this initial laboratory work, a single strip of the hydrophobic, gas-attracting material was placed next to a single copper electrode, but in future work a practical device might be made using a dense set of interleaved pairs of plates, Varanasi suggests.

    Compared to previous work on electrochemical carbon reduction with nanostructure catalysts, Varanasi says, “we significantly outperform them all, because even though it’s the same catalyst, it’s how we are delivering the carbon dioxide that changes the game.”

    “This is a completely innovative way of feeding carbon dioxide into an electrolyzer,” says Ifan Stephens, a professor of materials engineering at Imperial College London, who was not connected to this research. “The authors translate fluid mechanics concepts used in the oil and gas industry to electrolytic fuel production. I think this kind of cross-fertilization from different fields is very exciting.”

    Stephens adds, “Carbon dioxide reduction has a great potential as a way of making platform chemicals, such as ethylene, from waste electricity, water, and carbon dioxide. Ethylene is currently formed by cracking long chain hydrocarbons from fossil fuels; its production emits copious amounts of carbon dioxide​ to the atmosphere. This method could potentially lead to more efficient carbon dioxide​ reduction, which could eventually move our society away from our current reliance on fossil fuels.”

    See the full article here .

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    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

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  • richardmitnick 11:41 am on December 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Speeding Toward Improved Hydrogen Fuel Production", , Catalysis, , , ,   

    From DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: “Speeding Toward Improved Hydrogen Fuel Production” 

    From DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

    December 21, 2020

    A new nanomaterial helps obtain hydrogen from a liquid energy carrier, in a key step toward a stable and clean fuel source.

    Illustration of the 2D boron nitride substrate with imperfections that host tiny nickel clusters. The catalyst aids the chemical reaction that removes hydrogen from liquid chemical carriers, making it available for use as a fuel. Credit: Jeff Urban/Berkeley Lab.

    Hydrogen is a sustainable source of clean energy that avoids toxic emissions and can add value to multiple sectors in the economy including transportation, power generation, metals manufacturing, among others. Technologies for storing and transporting hydrogen bridge the gap between sustainable energy production and fuel use, and therefore are an essential component of a viable hydrogen economy. But traditional means of storage and transportation are expensive and susceptible to contamination. As a result, researchers are searching for alternative techniques that are reliable, low-cost and simple. More-efficient hydrogen delivery systems would benefit many applications such as stationary power, portable power, and mobile vehicle industries.

    Now, as reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have designed and synthesized an effective material for speeding up one of the limiting steps in extracting hydrogen from alcohols. The material, a catalyst, is made from tiny clusters of nickel metal anchored on a 2D substrate. The team led by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (Berkeley Lab) Molecular Foundry [below] found that the catalyst could cleanly and efficiently accelerate the reaction that removes hydrogen atoms from a liquid chemical carrier. The material is robust and made from earth-abundant metals rather than existing options made from precious metals, and will help make hydrogen a viable energy source for a wide range of applications.

    “We present here not merely a catalyst with higher activity than other nickel catalysts that we tested, for an important renewable energy fuel, but also a broader strategy toward using affordable metals in a broad range of reactions,” said Jeff Urban, the Inorganic Nanostructures Facility director at the Molecular Foundry who led the work. The research is part of the Hydrogen Materials Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC), a consortium funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (EERE). Through this effort, five national laboratories work towards the goal to address the scientific gaps blocking the advancement of solid hydrogen storage materials. Outputs from this work will directly feed into EERE’s H2@Scale vision for affordable hydrogen production, storage, distribution and utilization across multiple sectors in the economy.

    Chemical compounds that act as catalysts like the one developed by Urban and his team are commonly used to increase the rate of a chemical reaction without the compound itself being consumed—they might hold a particular molecule in a stable position, or serve as an intermediary that allows an important step to be reliably to completed. For the chemical reaction that produces hydrogen from liquid carriers, the most effective catalysts are made from precious metals. However, those catalysts are associated with high costs and low abundance, and are susceptible to contamination. Other less expensive catalysts, made from more common metals, tend to be less effective and less stable, which limits their activity and their practical deployment into hydrogen production industries.

    To improve the performance and stability of these earth-abundant metal-based catalysts, Urban and his colleagues modified a strategy that focuses on tiny, uniform clusters of nickel metal. Tiny clusters are important because they maximize the exposure of reactive surface in a given amount of material. But they also tend to clump together, which inhibits their reactivity.

    Postdoctoral research assistant Zhuolei Zhang and project scientist Ji Su, both at the Molecular Foundry and co-lead authors on the paper, designed and performed an experiment that combatted clumping by depositing 1.5-nanometer-diameter nickel clusters onto a 2D substrate made of boron and nitrogen engineered to host a grid of atomic-scale dimples. The nickel clusters became evenly dispersed and securely anchored in the dimples. Not only did this design prevent clumping, but its thermal and chemical properties greatly improved the catalyst’s overall performance by directly interacting with the nickel clusters.

    “The role of the underlying surface during the cluster formation and deposition stage has been found to be critical, and may provide clues to understanding their role in other processes” said Urban.

    Detailed X-ray and spectroscopy measurements, combined with theoretical calculations, revealed much about the underlying surfaces and their role in catalysis. Using tools at the Advanced Light Source, a DOE user facility at Berkeley Lab, and computational modeling methods, the researchers identified changes in the physical and chemical properties of the 2D sheets while tiny nickel clusters occupy pristine regions of the sheets and interact with nearby edges, thus preserving the tiny size of the clusters.

    LBNL ALS .

    The tiny, stable clusters facilitated the action in the processes through which hydrogen is separated from its liquid carrier, endowing the catalyst with excellent selectivity, productivity, and stable performance.

    Calculations showed that the catalyst’s size was the reason its activity was among the best relative to others that have recently been reported. David Prendergast, director of the Theory of Nanostructured Materials Facility at the Molecular Foundry, along with postdoctoral research assistant and co-lead author Ana Sanz-Matias, used models and computational methods to uncover the unique geometric and electronic structure of the tiny metal clusters. Bare metal atoms, abundant on these tiny clusters, more readily attracted the liquid carrier than did larger metal particles. These exposed atoms also eased the steps of the chemical reaction that strips hydrogen from the carrier, while preventing the formation of contaminants that may clog the surface of the cluster. Hence, the material remained free of pollution during key steps in the hydrogen production reaction. These catalytic and anti-contamination properties emerged from the imperfections that had been deliberately introduced to the 2D sheets and ultimately helped keep the cluster size small.

    “Contamination can render possible non-precious metal catalysts unviable. Our platform here opens a new door to engineering those systems,” said Urban.

    In their catalyst, the researchers achieved the goal of creating a relatively inexpensive, readily available, and stable material that helps to strip hydrogen from liquid carriers for use as a fuel. This work came out of a DOE effort to develop hydrogen storage materials to meet the targets of EERE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office and to optimize the materials for future use in vehicles.

    Future work by the Berkeley Lab team will further hone the strategy of modifying 2D substrates in ways that support tiny metal clusters, to develop even more efficient catalysts. The technique could help to optimize the process of extracting hydrogen from liquid chemical carriers.

    The Molecular Foundry and the Advanced Light Source are DOE Office of Science user facilities at Berkeley Lab.

    The research was supported by the DOE Office of Science and EERE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

    See the full article here .


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    Bringing Science Solutions to the World
    In the world of science, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is synonymous with “excellence.” Thirteen Nobel prizes are associated with Berkeley Lab. Seventy Lab scientists are members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the highest honors for a scientist in the United States. Thirteen of our scientists have won the National Medal of Science, our nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research. Eighteen of our engineers have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and three of our scientists have been elected into the Institute of Medicine. In addition, Berkeley Lab has trained thousands of university science and engineering students who are advancing technological innovations across the nation and around the world.

    Berkeley Lab is a member of the national laboratory system supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Science. It is managed by the University of California (UC) and is charged with conducting unclassified research across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Located on a 202-acre site in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus that offers spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley Lab employs approximately 3,232 scientists, engineers and support staff. The Lab’s total costs for FY 2014 were $785 million. A recent study estimates the Laboratory’s overall economic impact through direct, indirect and induced spending on the nine counties that make up the San Francisco Bay Area to be nearly $700 million annually. The Lab was also responsible for creating 5,600 jobs locally and 12,000 nationally. The overall economic impact on the national economy is estimated at $1.6 billion a year. Technologies developed at Berkeley Lab have generated billions of dollars in revenues, and thousands of jobs. Savings as a result of Berkeley Lab developments in lighting and windows, and other energy-efficient technologies, have also been in the billions of dollars.

    Berkeley Lab was founded in 1931 by Ernest Orlando Lawrence, a UC Berkeley physicist who won the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics for his invention of the cyclotron, a circular particle accelerator that opened the door to high-energy physics. It was Lawrence’s belief that scientific research is best done through teams of individuals with different fields of expertise, working together. His teamwork concept is a Berkeley Lab legacy that continues today.

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  • richardmitnick 10:39 am on December 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Three-dimensional View of Catalysts in Action", , Catalysis, Operando X-ray spectroscopy, The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology [Karlsruher Institut für Technologie] (DE)   

    From The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology [Karlsruher Institut für Technologie] (DE): “Three-dimensional View of Catalysts in Action” 


    From The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology [Karlsruher Institut für Technologie] (DE)

    December 17, 2020

    Monika Landgraf
    Head of Corporate Communications, Chief Press Officer
    Phone: +49 721 608-41150
    Fax: +49 721 608-43658

    Contact for this press release:
    Margarete Lehné
    stellv. Pressesprecherin
    Phone: +49 721 608-41157
    Fax: +49 721 608-41157

    Operando X-ray Spectroscopy Brings New Opportunities for Materials and Reaction Diagnostics – Report in Nature Catalysis

    Operando X-ray spectroscopy shows what happens in each single part of a working catalyst. Credit: Dr. Dmitry Doronkin, KIT.

    For understanding the structure and function of catalysts in action, researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), in cooperation with colleagues from the Swiss Light Source SLS of Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in France, have developed a new diagnostic tool. Operando X-ray spectroscopy visualizes the structure and gradients of complex technical catalysts in three dimensions, thus allowing us to look into functioning chemical reactors. The results are re-ported in Nature Catalysis.

    Catalysis is indispensable for many branches. 95% of all chemicals are produced using catalysts. Catalysts also play a key role in energy technologies and environmental protection. Catalysts are materials used to accelerate chemical reactions in order to reduce energy consumption and undesired by-products. This chemico-physical principle is the basis of entire systems, examples being catalytic converters in cars or catalysts in power plants to remove pollutants from their exhausts. Technical and industrial catalysts are also applied in fertilizer and polymer production. Often, they must exhibit high pressure resistance and mechanical strength, while additionally operating under dynamic environmental conditions. Even smallest efficiency increases in the removal of pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and fine dust, from exhaust gases or in the production of green hydrogen will result in major advantages for humans and the environment. To improve existing catalytic materials and processes, however, exact understanding of their function is required. “Whether in a large chemical reactor, in a battery, or underneath your car, technical and industrial catalysts often have a highly complex structure,” says Dr. Thomas Sheppard from the Institute for Chemical Technology and Polymer Chemistry (ITCP) of KIT. “To really understand how these materials function, we need to take a look inside the reactor when the catalyst is working, ideally with an analytical tool to detect the complex 3D structure of the active catalyst.”

    Operando X-ray Spectroscopy Provides 3D Images and Major Chemical Information.

    Thomas Sheppard directed a study on automotive catalytic converters, the results of which are now reported in Nature Catalysis by the researchers involved from KIT, PSI, and ESRF. For their studies, the team used a newly developed setup and carried out tomography experiments at synchrotron radiation facilities in Switzerland and France. Computer tomography produces 3D images of a sample, including the exterior and interior, without needing to cut it open. By using a special reactor, the researchers performed tomography and X-ray spectroscopy to track an active catalytic process. In this way, they succeeded in observing the 3D structure of an emission control catalyst under conditions just like those in a real automotive exhaust. This so-called operando X-ray spectroscopy provides not only the 3D structure of the sample, but also important chemical information.

    Method Suited for Various Catalysts

    “Since catalysts often have a rather complex and non-uniform structure, it is important to know whether the entire catalyst volume or only parts of it are performing their chemical function as intended,” explains Johannes Becher from ITCP, one of the main authors of the study. “Operando X-ray spectroscopy lets us see the specific structure and function of every single piece. This tells us whether the catalyst is performing at maximum efficiency or not and, more importantly, it helps us understand the underlying processes.” During reaction, the team observed a structural gradient of the active copper species within the catalyst, which could not be detected previously using conventional analytical tools. This is important diagnostic information in the performance of emission control catalysts. The method itself can be applied to many different catalysts and chemical processes.

    New Opportunities for Materials and Reaction Diagnostics

    The team’s studies show how visualizing the chemical state of an active catalyst in 3D can bring new opportunities for materials and reaction diagnostics. “Until now, it was not possible to freely select any piece of a working catalyst and understand which reactions take place in there without disturbing it. Now, we can follow exactly which reactions are occurring, where, and why,” says Professor Jan-Dierk Grunwaldt from ITCP. “This is the key to improving our understanding of chemical processes and designing better and more efficient catalysts in future.” Studies using operando X-ray spectroscopy can be carried out at different synchrotron radiation sources, provided that an appropriate sample environment exists. The groups of Jan-Dierk Grunwaldt and Thomas Sheppard will continue their investigations as part of the new Collaborative Research Center “TrackAct” at KIT. “TrackAct” is aimed at under-standing and improving the design and efficiency of emission con-trol catalysts.

    See the full article here .


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    Mission Statement of KIT


    The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology [Karlsruher Institut für Technologie] (DE), briefly referred to as KIT, was established by the merger of the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe GmbH and the Universität Karlsruhe ([TH] on October 01, 2009. KIT combines the tasks of a university of the state of Baden-Württemberg with those of a research center of the Helmholtz Association in the areas of research, teaching, and innovation.

    The KIT merger represents the consistent continuation of a long-standing close cooperation of two research and education institutions rich in tradition. The University of Karlsruhe was founded in 1825 as a Polytechnical School and has developed to a modern location of research and education in natural sciences, engineering, economics, social sciences, and the humanities, which is organized in eleven departments. The Karlsruhe Research Center was founded in 1956 as the Nuclear Reactor Construction and Operation Company and has turned into a multidisciplinary large-scale research center of the Helmholtz Association, which conducts research under eleven scientific and engineering programs.

    In 2014/15, the KIT concentrated on an overarching strategy process to further develop its corporate strategy. This mission statement as the result of a participative process was the first element to be incorporated in the strategy process.

    Mission Statement of KIT

    KIT combines the traditions of a renowned technical university and a major large-scale research institution in a very unique way. In research and education, KIT assumes responsibility for contributing to the sustainable solution of the grand challenges that face the society, industry, and the environment. For this purpose, KIT uses its financial and human resources with maximum efficiency. The scientists of KIT communicate the contents and results of their work to society.

    Engineering sciences, natural sciences, the humanities, and social sciences make up the scope of subjects covered by KIT. In high interdisciplinary interaction, scientists of these disciplines study topics extending from the fundamentals to application and from the development of new technologies to the reflection of the relationship between man and technology. For this to be accomplished in the best possible way, KIT’s research covers the complete range from fundamental research to close-to-industry, applied research and from small research partnerships to long-term large-scale research projects. Scientific sincerity and the striving for excellence are the basic principles of our activities.

    Worldwide exchange of knowledge, large-scale international research projects, numerous global cooperative ventures, and cultural diversity characterize and enrich the life and work at KIT. Academic education at KIT is guided by the principle of research-oriented teaching. Early integration into interdisciplinary research projects and international teams and the possibility of using unique research facilities open up exceptional development perspectives for our students.

    The development of viable technologies and their use in industry and the society are the cornerstones of KIT’s activities. KIT supports innovativeness and entrepreneurial culture in various ways. Moreover, KIT supports a culture of creativity, in which employees and students have time and space to develop new ideas.

    Cooperation of KIT employees, students, and members is characterized by mutual respect and trust. Achievements of every individual are highly appreciated. Employees and students of KIT are offered equal opportunities irrespective of the person. Family-friendliness is a major objective of KIT as an employer. KIT supports the compatibility of job and family. As a consequence, the leadership culture of KIT is also characterized by respect and cooperation. Personal responsibility and self-motivation of KIT employees and members are fostered by transparent and participative decisions, open communication, and various options for life-long learning.

    The structure of KIT is tailored to its objectives in research, education, and innovation. It supports flexible, synergy-based cooperation beyond disciplines, organizations, and hierarchies. Efficient services are rendered to support KIT employees and members in their work.

    Young people are our future. Reliable offers and career options excellently support KIT’s young scientists and professionals in their professional and personal development.

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