Fall 2023 Research Grants Round-Up

Professor and department head Steven May has received a three-year $900,000 grant from the Department of Energy for a project designed to control magnetism in quantum material heterostructures. The magnetic properties of quantum materials are of central importance for understanding fundamental aspects of their electronic structure and spin interactions, as well as for potential applications in microelectronics and quantum information systems. Developing approaches for active manipulation of magnetism remains a contemporary goal of materials physics as well as an operating principle for spintronic devices. 

This project aims to address this challenge by leveraging both ex situ and in situ neutron scattering techniques to enable new approaches for measuring, understanding, and, ultimately, controlling magnetism within quantum matter heterostructures. The fundamental scientific insights gained by the research will advance the understanding of relationships between magnetic order and charge density in quantum materials.

Distinguished University and Bach Professor Yury Gogotsi has received a $375,000 U.S. Small Business Administration Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for Phase II of a collaborative project with Ballydel. This Phase II STTR effort focuses on the development of scalable and safe synthetic methods for producing non-conventional 2D MXene materials. Both traditional and novel fabrication processes shall be explored for creating monolayers and multilayered 2D MXenes.

Additionally, Gogotsi has received the first-year contract ($180,000) of a three-year project on the synthesis of MXenes. In this project, the Gogotsi group will build a standalone system for the dry synthesis of MXenes. They will investigate the mechanism of MXene formation and evaluate the possibility of scale-up. As soon as MXenes have been produced, their properties will be evaluated. In subsequent years, the team plans to demonstrate how to control the morphology of the resultant MXene and doping in MXenes, as well as develop new delamination techniques.

Associate professor Hao Cheng has received a $350,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop polymer derived biomaterials for mRNA delivery to induce antigen-specific immune tolerance.  General immunosuppression can be effective in treating hypersensitivity autoimmune and allergy disorders, but its non-specific effects increase susceptibility to infection. Compared to small molecule drugs, delivered mRNA can program immune cells more precisely. The success of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines has validated mRNA delivery as a platform for antigen-specific immune stimulation. However, mRNA delivery strategy for immune tolerance has not been well established.

This project proposes simultaneous delivery of antigen peptides and mRNAs encoding tolerogenic cytokines using poly(lactide-co-glycolide)-b-poly(ethylene glycol)-based nanoparticles (PLGA-PEG-NPs) to induce antigen-specific tolerance with a much lower risk of infection.

Assistant professor Yong-Jie Hu (PI) and Anne Stevens Assistant Professor Jill Wenderott (co-PI) have received a two-year $198,498 National Science Foundation EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) grant to develop a data-driven framework for high-throughput assessment of synthesizability of inorganic compounds through a combination of deep learning (DL) and the CALculation of PHAse Diagram (CALPHAD) approach. The framework will be developed for generality across arbitrary material systems. However, the EAGER grant period will be focused on demonstrating the framework by searching the synthesis routes for a group of transition metal oxynitrides with experimental validations using the in-situ synthesis approach. These oxynitrides are computationally designed and highly interesting for energy conversion applications but have not yet been synthesized experimentally.


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