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Energy Frontier Research Center

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Frontiers in
Energy Research
Frontiers in Energy Research: Fall 2019
  • Elizabeth Pogue

    Quantum=cool. In the movie, Avengers: Endgame, entering the “Quantum Realm” was a major plot point that allows the basic laws of physics to be broken in largely fantastical ways.

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Feature Articles
  • Mateusz Zuba

    When a person becomes ill and cannot function in their everyday life, they pay a visit to a doctor to find the problem and get treatment. Some Energy Frontiers Research Centers (EFRCs) act like a hospital for batteries.

  • Rubul Mout

    In 1947, a new electronic device called the transistor was invented, which threw out the hegemony of previous analogous devices, called vacuum tubes, and set the platform for the entire electronics industry for next half-a-century or so.

  • Evan Lafalce

    On July 29th and 30th, hundreds of scientists, including graduate students, postdocs, and principal investigators, from universities and national labs across the country met at the biennial Energy Frontier Research Centers Principal Investigators’ Meeting.

  • Trent R. Graham

    The mission of DOE’s Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences (BES) is to conduct fundamental research to acquire the ability to understand, predict and ultimately control matter and energy at the atomic and molecular levels.

  • Scientists are working to understand how to improve energy storage with deep eutectic solvents. Image courtesy Nathan Johnson, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

    Ryan Greer

    Energy storage is crucial to the long-term viability of renewable energies, like wind and solar power. When the wind isn’t blowing, and the sun isn’t shining, we need to have stored energy from when they were.

  • Ben Xinzi Zhang

    Every week, all members of Gregory Scholes’ research group at Princeton University receive an e-mail announcing the location and presenter of that week’s “photosynthetic subgroup” meeting. These emails always bear a humorously predictable final line: “X will present and Y will bring snacks.”

Research Highlights
  • Sally Jiao

    Plant cell walls are a potentially vast source of renewable fuel. Biomass is projected to have the capacity to produce approximately 700 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually by 2030.

  • Catherine F. Wise

    Imagine you’re at a football game. It’s halftime, and the marching band is performing, moving seamlessly as a unit in time with the music.

  • Michael P. Hoepfner

    The United States is expected to become a net energy exporter in 2020 according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. This is due in large part to advancements in drilling technologies that allow for extraction of the crude oil contained in a type of rock called shale.

Editor’s Note:

Congratulations are in order! This year is the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Energy Frontier Research Centers supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Basic Energy Sciences. In this issue we’ll learn how the centers sprang from a clear analysis of the foundational scientific needs to advance energy research as well as how the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) of 2009 was leveraged to establish the original centers. Each of the 46 centers in 36 states addresses a grand challenge. Over the past decade, centers have been refreshed or retired, and new ones have been added. Last year, 22 new centers were added. Research from several of them are featured in this issue, from the current pop culture favorite—quantum materials—to a new way of looking at energy storage materials. We’ll get on the scene reporting from the Principal Investigators meeting, find out about advancements in imaging that let us ‘see’ how plants and shale minerals can fuel our future, and learn about a researcher who’s leading others on the quest for light harvesting. As you read the articles in this issue, I think you’ll agree that the initial ARRA investment is paying great dividends. I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens in the next chapter.

Susan Bauer, Editor-in-Chief


Editorial Board


  • Michael Hoepfner, Multi-Scale Fluid-Solid Interactions in Architected and Natural Materials (MUSE)
  • Sally Jiao, Center for Materials for Water and Energy Systems (M-WET)
  • Evan Lafalce, Center for Hybrid Organic Inorganic Semiconductors for Energy (CHOISE)
  • Rubul Mout, Center for the Science of Synthesis Across Scales (CSSAS)
  • Elizabeth Pogue, Institute for Quantum Matter (IQM)
  • Catherine Wise, Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis (CME)
  • Ben Xinzi Zhang, Bioinspired Light-Escalated Chemistry (BioLEC)
  • Mateusz Zuba, NorthEast Center for Chemical Energy Storage (NECCES)
  • Trent R. Graham, Interfacial Dynamics in Radioactive Environments and Materials (IDREAM)



Disclaimer: The opinions in this newsletter are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views or position of the Department of Energy.