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Program Highlights

Accelerating Innovation through Licensing, Commercialization, and Startups

The NU-MRSEC amplifies its societal impact by engaging industry and other partners, promoting commercialization, and providing shared facilities that are informed by the latest materials research.  In this manner, the latest scientific developments are efficiently brought to the marketplace, and society at large.

Synthesis of Borophane Polymorphs through Hydrogenation of Borophene

In a three PI collaboration within NU-MRSEC IRG-1, “borophane” polymorphs have been synthesized by hydrogenating borophene with atomic hydrogen in ultrahigh vacuum. Borophane polymorphs are metallic and can be reversibly returned to pristine borophene through thermal desorption of hydrogen.

STEM: Science and Beyond

Hosted by Prof. Rolando Valdés Aguilar and graduate student Brandi Wooten, CEM Podcasts were started in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to inform and bring the MRSEC community together.

Virtual Musical Magnetism Engages Middle School Students in Materials Science

The Illinois MRSEC implemented its middle school outreach program “Musical Magnetism” for the third year starting in Feb. 2021, in a six-week, virtual format. The program engages middle school students in materials science demos as they practice creative expression with a science theme. The program reached 50 7th and 8th graders at Franklin STEAM Academy, a school with majority URM students.

Designing Highly Deformable 2D Materials and Heterostructures

The Illinois MRSEC team has demonstrated a new ability to create ultra-soft 2D heterostructures by design. With combined electron microscopy studies and atomistic simulations, they show that systematically incorporating low-friction interfacial layers into 2D stacks tunes the bending stiffness up to several hundred percent.

Assembly of Linked Nanocrystal Colloids by Reversible Covalent Bonds

This highlight demonstrates the combination of colloidal nanocrystals with uniquely developed ligands for the use of gelation assembly. Through this combined experimental, computational and theoretical work provided a platform for controlling and designing the properties of reversible colloidal assemblies.

Collective Excitations in Twisted Bilayers

Moire superlattices consist of two monolayers of atomically thin materials, in this case the transition metal dichalcogenide MoS2, stacked on top of each other with a slight rotational misalignment (twist) that creates a moire interference pattern between the atomic lattices of the two monolayers.

Seed: Selecting for Phase-Separating Nucleic Acid Coacervates

Top: Designed DNA structures of varying charge density and flexibility. Bottom left: Coacervate droplets formed from 1 DNA structure. Bottom middle/right: Binary droplets formed from a model system with 2 DNA structures.

IRG-3: Accelerating Block Copolymer Research

A single parent diblock copolymer can be purified by automated chromatography to give libraries of well-defined, low dispersity block copolymers on multi-gram scale.

IRG-1: Magnetoplastic Coupling in Heusler Intermetallics

Experiments (top) showing near zero-net magnetization of MnAu2Al following plastic deformation and simulations (bottom) of low energy displacive pathways enabled by local spin orderings.