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Direct assembly of nanomaterials for highly efficient energy conversion will be the goal of a five-year, $750,000 project led by Cornell researcher David Erickson.
Erickson, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has received a Department of Energy Early Career Research Program grant for a project to use high-intensity optical forces on the nanoscale to directly assemble new types of hybrid nanomaterials with useful energetic properties.
Erickson explained that often when new nanomaterials are made, such conditions as the concentration or temperature of chemicals can be modified, but in the end, chemical reactions occur that can't be stopped.
"With this technique we hope to be able to get around that and directly take a series of basic elements like carbon nanotubes and gold nanoparticles, and assemble them into any arbitrary material structure we like," Erickson said.
He hopes their first application of such new materials will lead to better ways to convert energy.
"Ultimately we envision that the basic research conducted in this program could lead to the development of a sort of light-based nano-assembly line for creating new materials," Erickson said.
Erickson said the grant will support a graduate student or postdoctoral associate for five years, as well as provide a partial summer salary.
The DOE funded about $85 million worth of early career research projects with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. To date, Cornell has received 135 ARRA awards, totaling more than $105 million.
About Cornell University
Once called "the first American university" by educational historian Frederick Rudolph, Cornell University represents a distinctive mix of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. Adding practical subjects to the classics and admitting qualified students regardless of nationality, race, social circumstance, gender, or religion was quite a departure when Cornell was founded in 1865.
Today's Cornell reflects this heritage of egalitarian excellence. It is home to the nation's first colleges devoted to hotel administration, industrial and labor relations, and veterinary medicine. Both a private university and the land-grant institution of New York State, Cornell University is the most educationally diverse member of the Ivy League.
On the Ithaca campus alone nearly 20,000 students representing every state and 120 countries choose from among 4,000 courses in 11 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Many undergraduates participate in a wide range of interdisciplinary programs, play meaningful roles in original research, and study in Cornell programs in Washington, New York City, and the world over.
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