What is Materials Science?
Materials Science and Engineering is an interdisciplinary field incorporating chemistry, physics, and engineering. For millennia materials have defined mankind’s achievements – think of the stone age and bronze age – and today’s new materials underlie technological advances. Materials scientists study the relation between processing, microstructure, properties, and performance of materials to understand and improve well known materials such as metals and ceramics, and to develop new materials, such as carbon nanotubes and advanced composites. The properties they study are mechanical, electrical, optical, magnetic, and more recently biological. They think about materials beginning at the atomic level, which means envisioning the type and arrangement of the atoms in the unit cell. Computational materials scientists work to understand the origins of the properties of existing materials or guide the development of new materials. The faculty members in the Interdisciplinary Program in Materials Science and Engineering at FSU do research on a wide variety of topics.
Low Cost, Scalable Water Splitting Fuels the Future for Hydrogen Economy
Hydrogen fuel cells can boost a clean energy economy not only in the transportation sector, where fast fueling and vehicle range outpace battery powered vehicles, but also to store electrical energy produced by solar and wind. This work is another step forward to reaching that goal.
From the theoretical point of view, the electron orbitals play a crucial role. In the case of pure MoS2, the orbitals from the metal do not overlap well with the orbital of hydrogen in the key reaction step; however, when the alloy is present these orbitals interact well and makes the reaction more efficient. This is similar to what platinum does, and the reason why platinum is so energy efficient at this chemical reaction. However, in this work, researchers showed that cheaper and more abundant elements can be used and reach an efficiency that outperforms all the best catalysts.
“What happens in these alloys is an exquisite overlap of orbitals which makes the reaction more efficient. This is not observed in the pure components. It is an example where the hybrid is better than the pure components,” says Jose L. Mendoza-Cortes, professor of chemical engineering, materials science and engineering and scientific computing at Florida State.
Caption Explanation for Figure 5: "The effect of alloying on (a) the band structure and DOSs for the rGO/W0.4Mo0.6S2 heterostructure, (b) the activation energy barrier for the migration of hydrogen atom (Volmer reaction mechanism); and (c) the activation barrier for the formation of H2 molecule involving adjacent water (Heyrovsky reaction mechanism). The HOMO of the transition state structures in the Heyrovsky reaction path are shown for (d) MoS2, (e) W0.4Mo0.6S2 and (f) WS2, where the molecular orbitals involved in the H2 formation are highlighted by a pink circle. The optimized geometries of catalysts are shown for the (g) MoS2, (h) W0.4Mo0.6S2, and (i) WS2."
First Annual James S. Brooks Symposium
The first annual James Brooks Symposium was held on Friday Mar. 31, 2017. This symposium was established to honor the memory of Prof. Jim Brooks who was instrumental in creating the Materials Science and Engineering program at FSU. Brooks, as he was affectionately known, had an infectious love of science, an insatiable curiosity, a passion for mentoring student, postdocs, and junior faculty members, and an ability to bring people from many disciplines to work together.
Nine students in the Materials Science and Engineering graduate program applied to compete in the symposium, and the field was narrowed to 5 contestants. Each student presented a 30 minute talk followed by questions on their research in an open symposium. The judges rated the contestants on their application material and presentation.
The results were the following:
1st place – Yesusa Collantes ($700)
2nd place – Charlie Sanabria ($500)
3rd place – Kang Yao ($200)
4th place - Omotola (Tola) Ogunsolu ($50)
5th place - Xinbo (Paul) Hu ($50)
Professor Jose Mendoza-Cortes Designs New Material to Better Store Hydrogen Fuel
A CLEANER, MORE EFFICIENT CAR?
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida State University researcher has designed new materials that could be used to store hydrogen fuel more efficiently in vehicles or other devices that use clean energy.
Jose Mendoza-Cortes, an assistant professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, describes his proposed solution and designs for these new materials in an article in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
"There will be many proposals to solve energy issues, and this may be one option," Mendoza-Cortes said. "We wanted to find the most effective way to store hydrogen so that perhaps in the future, cars could use this to run longer distances and more efficiently."
Scientists had already discovered that they needed to pressurize hydrogen to compact it and make it usable as a fuel for cars. But Mendoza-Cortes wanted to take it one step further and make the process more efficient and economically viable.
"We still want to pressurize it, but we want to do it more efficiently," he said. "Right now, it’s extremely costly to do this."
Using complex mathematical equations and computer simulations, Mendoza-Cortes designed porous materials of transition metals — compounds involving cobalt, iron or nickel — that cause hydrogen to bond with it. This next-generation design could then be placed in a tank of a car that uses hydrogen for fuel. These new materials are made of Earth abundant elements and therefore are easily available.
Mendoza-Cortes designed 270 compounds through these simulations and then tested their performance for hydrogen storage.
The idea is that since hydrogen will bind to the actual device, more hydrogen could be packed in and condensed into a tank. Because the hydrogen easily sticks to the device, the tank would never actually reach empty. Additionally, he found it would take a smaller energy expenditure to fill up the tank.
"In other words, more hydrogen can be stored at lower pressures and room temperature, making some of these materials good for practical use," Mendoza-Cortes said.
New Material Holds Promise to Create More Flexible, Efficient Technologies
An organic-inorganic hybrid material may be the future for more efficient technologies that can generate electricity from either light or heat or devices that emit light from electricity.
Shangchao Lin, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, has published a new paper in the journal ACS Nano that predicts how an organic-inorganic hybrid material called organometal halide perovskites could be more mechanically flexible than existing silicon and other inorganic materials used for solar cells, thermoelectric devices and light-emitting diodes.
In a separate study, Lin found that they might be more energy efficient as well.
“We’re addressing this from a theoretical perspective,” Lin said. “Nobody has really looked at the mechanical and thermal properties of this new material and how it could be used.”
Through mathematical simulations, Lin found that organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites should be extremely malleable and flexible. Although plenty of researchers have looked at perovskites for energy technologies, they did not think they were viable for certain devices because of their crystal structure. Scientists thought they would shatter if used for something like a solar panel.
FSU Researcher's Discovery of New Crystal Structure Holds Promise for Optoelectronic Devices
A Florida State University research team has discovered a new crystal structure of organic-inorganic hybrid materials that could open the door to new applications for optoelectronic devices like light-emitting diodes and lasers.
The research was published today in the journal Nature Communications.
Biwu Ma, associate professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, has been working with a class of crystalline materials called organometal halide perovskites for the past few years as a way to build highly functioning optoelectronic devices. In this most recent work, his team assembled organic and inorganic components to make a one-dimensional structure.
“The basic building block of this class of materials is the same, like a Lego piece, with which you can assemble different structures,” Ma said.
MS&E graduate student Charlie Sanabria awarded 2016 FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Graduate Student Leadership Award
Imagine being an undergrad in Mechanical Engineering. Now, imagine having the opportunity to travel to France as an undergrad and delve into the intricacies of revamping one of the largest magnetic systems in the world for the purpose of fusion as an energy source. For Charlie Sanabria, who earned his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and is now a graduate student in Materials Science and Engineering, this scenario was a reality. As an undergraduate in 2008, Charlie was among five undergraduate research assistants selected to help the ITER organization in France reconstruct their superconducting cables and thus improve their magnetic fusion system. For this and many other accomplishments, Charlie earned the 2016 Florida State University College of Engineering Graduate Student Leadership Award.
Raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Charlie and his family moved to Panamá when he was a teenager, where they discovered the Florida State University-Republic of Panama campus. A pursuit of Mechanical Engineering following enrollment led to graduation from Florida State University in Tallahassee.
When Charlie took the opportunity to go to France and work with ITER as an undergrad, the experience took him to new heights both academically and personally. Academically, as a researcher, engineer, and scientist, Charlie's work was key to improving ITER's superconducting cables so that they could create the magnetic fields necessary for fusion of plasma. The metallographic analysis he provided led to a presentation at the 2011 Conductor Design Reconciliation Workshop in Aix-en-Province, France. Additionally, Charlie discovered the fun, carefree side of the top scientists with which he worked, realizing that his chosen profession didn't require him to sacrifice pursuing interests beyond engineering. At that time, the interest of exploring the French cities of Marseille and Paris rounded off Charlie's once-in-a-lifetime experience, as he "walked and walked through these cities, taking pictures and embracing every little thing, from the food and the music to the architecture and the museums."