Many of us are taught in secondary school about catalysts: “substances that speed up a chemical reaction without being consumed.” In the world around us, catalysis is present in many forms, from heterogeneous catalysts used in the processing of fossil fuels, to electrocatalysts in hydrogen fuel cells, to the enzymes in our own bodies.
The molecules in that glass of water next to you are quite active! They move around, interact, and react with each other, and collectively form the liquid we all know and cherish. However, things get even more complicated when water molecules are within a couple nanometers of a solid surface.
If you have ever eaten a salt and vinegar potato chip or put tangy ketchup on your fries, you are familiar with the pairing of acidity and salt. In addition to being flavors that pack a punch when combined, acidity and salt are two basic chemistry concepts that can be curiously related. The definition of an acid has to do with how something behaves, whereas salt describes what something is.
We interact with artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) algorithms on a day-to-day basis, from image and voice recognition to predicting fraudulent credit transactions. Researchers at the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation (CCEI) are using ML to accelerate the catalyst discovery process by predicting new bimetallic catalysts for ethanol reforming. ML is ideally suited to quickly and accurately identify important chemical parameters and developing models for catalyst predictions.
Leah M. Rader Bowers
Most chemical reactions involving the breaking and making of carbon–carbon (C–C) or carbon–nitrogen, carbon–oxygen (C–N, C–O) bonds cost a lot of energy. The introduction of a catalyst lowers the energy required to complete a catalytic cycle and speed up the rate of reaction. The catalyst, typically an organic molecule or thin film with a central or bridging transition metal (organometallic catalyst), interacts with a molecular reactant to gain or lose electron(s), becoming reduced or oxidized, respectively).
Have you ever wondered why batteries hold less charge the longer they are in use? Have you ever wondered how they can be made to last longer? For traditional lithium-ion batteries, the answers at the heart of these questions are partially found in understanding energy material degradation that occurs while the battery is in use, or, in other words, while the battery is charging and discharging.
The promise of cheap and efficient solar energy motivates a wide range of research efforts, from fundamental molecular design of new materials to sophisticated device engineering. In the last 12 or so years, halide perovskite solar cells (PSCs) have captured the imagination of scientists and entrepreneurs alike. Their appeal lies in efficiencies on par with more established inorganic technologies and low-cost production. Furthermore, PSCs are promising candidates for unprecedented applications such as flexible or transparent solar cells integrated into windows and blinds.
Ferroelectricity was discovered one century ago in Rochelle salt by J. Valasek. Today, ferroelectrics are in commercial use for capacitors, sensors, actuators, energy harvesters, electro-optics, and nonvolatile memory. It is this last application that underpins the Center for Three Dimensional Ferroelectric Microelectronics (3DFeM). As one of the 41 active Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) funded by U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Science, 3DFeM aims to exploit the 3rd dimension in microelectronics to enable closely interconnected memory and logic devices.
- Through the x-ray looking glass: A probe to investigate solute–solvent interactions in molten salt systems for reactor applications
Nuclear energy is a vital contributor to sustainable energy generation, despite a level of skepticism among some of the general public and other stakeholders. As an energy source, it can provide clean energy with net zero-carbon emissions at a low environmental cost. Nuclear reactors come in different shapes and sizes. A nuclear reactor works by a process called fission where an atom is split into two smaller atoms and some additional neutrons. Some of these neutrons cause them to fission too and release more neutrons creating a chain reaction.
Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), porous structures that are formed through metal atoms linked with organic molecules, have become versatile materials for storage, separation, and sequestration of various molecules due to their modularity and porous nature.
Nancy M. Washton and Jeffrey G. Holmes, Co-editors-in-Chief
- Kindle Williams, Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis (CME)
- Elias Nakouzi, Interfacial Dynamics in Radioactive Environments and Materials (IDREAM)
- Haley Williams, Fundamental Understanding of Transport Under Reactor Extremes (FUTURE)
- Katie McCullough, Argonne National Laboratory
- Leah M. Rader Bowers, Bioinspired Light-Escalated Chemistry (BioLEC)
- Muna Saber, Synthetic Control Across Length-scales for Advancing Rechargeables (SCALAR)
- Nicole Avakyan, Center for the Science of Synthesis Across Scales (CSSAS)
- Yongtao Liu, Center for 3D Ferroelectric Microelectronics (3DFeM)
- Luis E. Betancourt, Molten Salts in Extreme Environment (MSEE)
- Matthew S. Christian, Center for Hierarchical Waste form Materials (CHWM)
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.