The A.J. Drexel Nanomaterials Institute opened a sleek 7,400-square-foot laboratory this week with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, speeches, lab tours, and alumni and international guests in attendance. Designed by the architectural firm Dimitri J. Ververelli, Inc., the laboratory is the College of Engineering’s newest and largest.
The nanomaterials lab represents a $5M infrastructure investment to advance interdisciplinary fundamental and applied research for one of the most exciting developments in materials science of the past 50 years—the discovery at Drexel of the novel, two-dimensional layered wonder material called MXene.
“The field of MXene research is on the rise and our lab has expanded to accommodate a larger variety of new research activities. I am delighted to see my team in a new home,” said Dr. Yury Gogotsi, the Charles T. and Ruth M. Bach Distinguished University Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and the founder and director of the nanomaterials institute.
“The larger space opens great opportunities for collaborative efforts with researchers from other groups at Drexel and elsewhere. I look forward to new scientific breakthroughs and important discoveries coming out of this lab.
“This is certainly one of the best-equipped research labs you can find anywhere in the world, and it will attract world-class researchers to Drexel,” he added. “Drexel rocks!”
The two-hour evening ceremony was sponsored by the College of Engineering and Drexel Alumni Relations.
The lab, located in the Bossone Research Center, will be shared by Gogotsi and by the Anne Stevens Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Dr. Ekaterina Pomerantseva (MSE).
The new laboratory can accommodate more than 50 researchers. It features cutting-edge equipment for the synthesis, characterization, and electrochemical testing of materials. Guests participating in the laboratory tour strolled past four large sealed glove boxes for handling air-sensitive materials like lithium; new high-temperature furnaces that reach 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit; advanced spectrometers and battery testing equipment; three times the number of chemical fume hoods in the former Gogotsi lab; and convenient working spaces for CoE faculty, students, and visiting researchers.
Research in the lab will focus primarily on MXenes, oxide materials, and carbons for electrochemical energy storage, and water desalination. But materials for healthcare, sensing, and other applications will be explored, as well. In addition, the lab will accommodate research stemming from a strategic partnership with MuRata Manufacturing Co., Ltd., of Japan, to develop MXenes for a variety of applications. Two senior managers from MuRata attended the ceremony.
Since the discovery of MXene in 2011, research on its application has outpaced all expectations. Scientists have generated some 1,200 scientific journal publications on the material. Citations reached 12,000 in 2018 alone, and are on-track to reach 20,000 in 2019. And today, over 700 organizations in 47 countries throughout the world are working on MXene.
CoE Dean Sharon L. Walker, PhD, participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “MXenes could be the key to building smaller, faster electronics and improving energy-storage devices; providing clean water through advanced water desalination; advancing technology for wearable electronics and the Internet of Things; and providing advances in biomedicine for brain electrodes, wearable kidneys, and cancer treatment,” she said.
“This work represents the best that academia can give a world facing pervasive, relentless challenges,” Walker added. “It is translational research that, quite simply, improves lives.”
Gogotsi commended Dr. Babak Anasori, research assistant professor (MSE), for his oversight of the project; his Nanomaterials Group for their “hard work and dedication in putting MXene materials on the map”; his first-year PhD students Mark Anayee and Adam Goad; and former PhD students also in attendance.