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Materials Discovery, Design and Synthesis


Structure and Dynamics of Materials Interfaces

Program Leader: Miquel Salmeron
Co-PI's: Gabor A. Somorjai, Peidong Yang, David Prendergast, Hendrik Bluhm

The objective of this program is to obtain a fundamental understanding of the structure and dynamics of materials interfaces with gas and liquid environments. Interfaces are defined here to include regions extending nanometers to micrometers away from the ideal sharp interface. Focus is on three thrust areas: a) Materials interfaces with gases at ambient pressures: how even weakly absorbed species in the presence of a gas phase establish new equilibrium structures, unknown from traditional surface science studies. b) Materials interfaces with liquids, including electrolyte solvent and solutes as a function of pH and electrical potential, which can lead to preferential dissolution of components. A special case will be the corrosion of metals and its inhibition by absorbed molecules. The interfaces will be investigated microscopically and spectroscopically over length scales of nanometers to micrometers away from the ideal sharp solid-liquid boundary to determine the distribution of the electrolyte chemical structure, ionic solvation and electrical potential. c) Structure and evolution of nano-crystalline materials, particularly multi-metallics, where the interface includes all of the atoms in the material. To accomplish this, new experimental tools will be developed or advanced as needed, and the full power of theoretical methods to guide the design and interpretation of experimental data will be incorporated.


Wang, Huixin; Wu, Cheng Hao, Weatherup, Robert S.; Feng, Bingmei; Ye, Yifan; Liu, Yi-Sheng; Glans, Per-Anders; Guo, Jinghua; Fang, Hai-Tao; Salmeron, Miquel B. X-ray-Induced Fragmentation of Imidazolium-Based Ionic Liquids Studied by Soft X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy. J. Phys. Chem. Letters. 2018, 9, 785-790. DOI:10.1021/acs.jpclett.8b00057

Eren, B., Torres, D., Karslıoglu, O., Liu, Zongyuan, Wu, Cheng Hao, Stacchiola, D., Bluhm, H., Somorjai, Gabor A., and Salmeron, Miquel. Structure of Copper−Cobalt Surface Alloys in Equilibrium with Carbon Monoxide Gas. J. Am. Chem.Soc.2018, 140, 6575–6581. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b13621.


Inorganic-Organic Nanocomposites

Program Leader: Ting Xu
Co-PI's: A. Paul Alivisatos, Yi Liu, Miquel Salmeron, Lin-Wang Wang

The organic/inorganic nanocomposite program aims to design and synthesize organic and inorganic building blocks, and guide their assemblies into functional nanocomposite materials by developing a thorough understanding of interfacial electronic properties with an ultimate goal to generate functional hybrid materials with tailored electrical and optical properties


He, B.; Zherebetskyy, D.; Wang, H.; Kolaczkowski, M. A.; Klivansky, L. M.; Tan, T.; Wang, L. W.; Liu, Y. Rational Tuning of the High Energy Visible Light Absorption for Panchromatic Small Molecules by a Two-Dimensional Conjugation Approach. Chemical Science (2016).

Lee, K. H.; Bai, P.; Rancatore, B. J.; He, B.; Liu, Y.; Xu, T. Improved Hierarchical Ordering in Supramolecules via Symmetrically Bi-functionalized Organic Semiconductor. Macromolecules (2016).

Ye, X. C.; Zhu, C. H.; Ercius, P.; Raja, S. N.; He, B.; Jones, M. R.; Hauwiller, M. R.; Liu, Y.; Xu, T.; Alivisatos, A. Structural diversity in binary superlattices self-assembled from polymer-grafted nanocrystals. Nature Communication (2015).


Physical Chemistry of Inorganic Nanostructures

Program Leader: A. Paul Alivisatos,
Co-PI's: Stephen R. Leone, Peidong Yang, Eran Rabani

This program works to advance the synthetic control of nanocrystals and nanowires for their use in integrated systems; to establish core science and technology for producing, separating, and transporting charges; and to measure and interpret the interactions of nanostructured materials at interfaces, including inorganic-organic, semiconductor-semiconductor, and semiconductor-catalyst interfaces.


D Zhang, Y Yang, Y Bekenstein, Y Yu, NA Gibson, AB Wong, SW Eaton, N Kornienko, Q Kong, M-L Lai, AP Alivisatos, SR Leone and P Yang. Synthesis of Composition Tunable and Highly Luminescent Cesium Lead Halide Nanowires through Anion-Exchange Reactions. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 138 (23), pp 7236-7239 (2016).

N Kornienko, NA Gibson, H Zhang, SW Eaton, Y Yu, S Aloni, SR Leone and P Yang. Growth and Photoelectrochemical Energy Conversion of Wurtzite Indium Phosphide Nanowire Arrays. ACS Nano 10 (5), pp 5525-5535 (2016).

SW Eaton, M Lai, N Gibson, AB Wong, L Dou, J Ma, LW Wang, SR Leone and P Yang. Lasing in Robust Cesium Lead Halide Nanowires. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 113 (8), pp 1993-1998 (2016).


Adaptive Interfacial Assemblies Towards Structuring Liquids

Program Leader: Thomas Russell
Co-PI's: Brett Helms, Paul Ashby, Alex Zettl, Phillip Geissler

There has been little success in producing materials with dynamic response that spans from liquids to solids, which can address many challenges in next-generation energy technologies. This program focuses on developing a new class of materials, "Structured Liquids", generated by the interfacial formation, assembly and jamming of nanoparticle surfactants. By manipulating the interfacial packing of the NP surfactants using external triggers, to generate a new family of materials that synergistically combines the desirable characteristics of fluids-rapid transport of energy carriers (e.g. electrons or protons), conformability to arbitrary shapes, and controlled dissipation of mechanical energy-with the structural stability of a solid. The results from these studies will lead to revolutionary design strategies for directing the flow of mechanical, electrical or optical energy in materials or systems. We will develop dynamic covalent bonding chemistries and quantitatively characterize nanoparticle assemblies and their dynamic responses across multiple length and time scales. The percolated pathways formed by the jammed NPs present further opportunities to capitalize on the inherent electrical, thermal or plasmonic properties of NPs. Using advanced microscopies, electron and scanning probe, the two dimensional assemblies of nanoparticle surfactants will allow us to address long-standing fundamental problems in glassy materials.


A. Toor, T, Feng and T.P. Russell. Self-assembly of nanomaterials at fluid interfaces. Eur. Phys. J. E 39, 57 (2016).

C. Hang, Z. Sun, M. Cui, F. Liu, B.A.Helms and T. P. Russell. Structured Liquids with pH-Triggered Reconfigurability. Adv. Mat., 28(11), 6612 (2016).