ENMU awarded $749,976 as Lead Institution on a Grant from the Department of Energy

ENMU awarded $749,976 as Lead Institution on a Grant from the Department of Energy

ENMU was awarded $749,976 over three years as the lead institution on a grant from the Department of Energy. The grant has been awarded for research on Use of Carbonyl as an Infrared Reporter for Probing the Nature of Charges in Donor-Acceptor Type Conjugated Molecules. 

Dr. Juchao Yan of Eastern New Mexico University, the principal investigator, who is a Professor of Chemistry, and the Chair of Department of Physical Sciences heads the team with two co-principal investigators from two other New Mexico Universities.

"I am proud that three New Mexico universities are part of this endeavor as are the students, both undergraduate and graduate, as well as the post-docs." said Juchao Yan, principal investigator from ENMU "This DOE EPSCoR opportunity not only connects us and our own team together, but allows us to connect to and leverage several of the research infrastructures provided by the DOE at their laboratories free of charge, all for the advancement of science, technology, and engineering."

Dr. Sandra Biedron, a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of New Mexico and Dr. Marat Talipov an Associate Professor of Chemistry at New Mexico State University are collaborating on this grant.

"The collaboration of the New Mexico universities with these facilities and resources at the DOE labs is testament to the collaborative nature of the DOE since its incubation period that started 80 years ago." said Sandra Biedron of UNM. "Programs like the DOE EPSCoR reward collaborations and encourages the universities to work with the DOE laboratories and their resources for research and workforce training. It is an all-around winning program, including benefitting the EPSCoR states by bringing that information home. We are anxious to get the activities underway and contribute more to clean energy."

"Modern research projects require collective efforts of research teams with complementary expertise. This project uses a combination of experimental, computational, and theoretical approaches to create a new angle of tackling challenging problems for the development of better solar cells." Said Marat Talipov of NMSU. "Interdisciplinary collaboration between the academic and national lab research teams builds an excellent environment for exciting research and for training of the next-generation STEM workforce."

Experimental results will be integrated with theoretical calculations to explore structure-property relationship across these solar-relevant polymers. These studies will leverage collaborations with many members of the DOE labs as well as leverage several unique facilities and additional research infrastructures at these DOE labs, namely, Argonne National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

"The proposed research is synergistic with ongoing research in our Electron- and Photo-Induced Processes group and is therefore a natural area for collaboration." said Dr. David Grills, a Chemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. "We commit to studying the new molecules that will be synthesized by Dr. Yan and his collaborators using our unique technique of pulse radiolysis coupled with time-resolved infrared spectroscopy (PR-TRIR) at the Laser Electron Accelerator Facility in the BNL Chemistry Division."

Density Functional Theory and other materials analysis will be performed using the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility. Other DOE facilities that will be exploited are the Laser-Electron Accelerator Facility (LEAF) and Accelerator Test Facility at Brookhaven; the LUMOS laboratory at LANL and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at PNNL.

"The research project is complementary to ongoing materials science projects at PNNL and will help teach early career individuals about materials synthesis and characterizations and introduce them into the nation's science and technology workforce." Said Dr. Xin Zhang, a Chemical Engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, "We are glad to be a part of the research team."

The project will address the challenges by preparing and characterizing a class of polymers that incorporate a carbonyl, an infrared reporter group that is composed of a carbon atom double bonded to an oxygen atom.

"Compared to the well-adopted infrared reporter group of nitrile (i.e., a functional group consisting of a carbon atom triple-bonded to a nitrogen atom), the carbonyl is more widely found in the solar-relevant polymers, and therefore is expected to help us further understand the nature and behavior of electrons in them by utilizing the powerful radiation chemistry facility at BNL," said Dr. Tomoyasu Mani, an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at University of Connecticut and a Joint Appointment Chemist at Brookhaven.

The NM-based researchers and their team look forward to working together with their partners from the four DOE laboratories on this new DOE EPSCoR supported project for the next three years.