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Program Highlights

Molecular Heterogeneity Drives Reconfigurable Nematic Liquid Crystal Drops

With few exceptions, polydispersity or molecular heterogeneity in matter tends to impede assembly Shape transformations of liquid droplets, for example, are readily understood on the basis of homogeneous material responses. Here, Yodh and Yang in IRG-3 studied drops filled with polydisperse nematic liquid crystal oligomers (NLCOs).

Emergence of Tissue-like Mechanics from Fibrous Networks Confined by Close-packed Cells

The Janmey and Shenoy groups in IRG-2 studied multiaxial response of soft tissues (top left image). Measurements (Janmey) and a theoretical model (Shenoy) show that the tissue rheology emerges from an interplay between strain-stiffening polymer networks and the volume-conserving cells within them.

Thermal Degradation of Polymers under Extreme Nanoconfinement

A collaboration between members of IRG-1 (Fakhraai, Lee, Turner) explored the properties of disordered packings in different environments. Specifically, they investigated the effects of extreme confinement on the thermal properties of polymer-infiltrated nanoparticle films.

Formation of Stable and Hierarchical Particle Aggregates by “Solid Bridging”

This IRG-1 collaboration, is focused on the mechanics of disordered solid granular matter and is led by Arratia, Ma (post-doc, Yodh lab) and Jerolmack (MRSEC collaborator).

Nanoscale Properties of MXene Membranes

MXenes are two-dimensional (2D) ceramics made of transition metal carbides and nitrides. Unlike other 2D ceramics, MXenes have inherently good conductivity and thus are promising for various applications. Probing the local physical properties of MXenes monolayers is important for the understanding of their functional performance. Nebraska MRSEC researchers in collaboration with their colleagues at Drexel University have developed an improved method for synthesis of monolayer membranes of Nb4C3Tx MXene.

Ferroelectric Tunnel Junctions Enhanced by a Polar Oxide Barrier Layer

Nebraska MRSEC researchers have proposed a new concept to design high-performance ferroelectric tunnel junctions with enhanced tunneling electroresistance (TER). This design exploits property of a polar oxide material to create an ionic charge at the interface.

Northwestern University Center for Atom Probe Tomography

Northwestern University MRSEC Shared Facilities play a central role in education and outreach programs. For example, the Northwestern University Center for Atom Probe Tomography recently hosted a two-day workshop to offer hands-on user training in the  latest methods in atom probe tomography including materials analysis and visualization tools.

Facilitating Technology Transfer and Commercialization

In partnership with the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, McCormick School of Engineering, Pritzker School of Law, and Innovation and New Ventures Office, the Northwestern University MRSEC fosters a comprehensive innovation ecosystem that allows fundamental research to be transferred to the market via startup companies.

Professional Development Workshops: Supporting Women in STEM in Tanzania

The Northwestern University MRSEC sponsors the Women Supporting Women in the Sciences initiative, which is a partnership with the University of Dodoma and the Nelson Mandela African Institution for Science and Technology in Tanzania. This initiative develops professional development workshops for female STEM students.

Northwestern Prison Education Program

The Northwestern Prison Education Program is an initiative to provide a high-quality liberal arts and STEM education to incarcerated students in Illinois in partnership with Oakton Community College and the Illinois Department of Corrections. Responding to the crisis of mass incarceration, NPEP fills a vital need by being the only degree-granting program in the State of Illinois with a full liberal arts curriculum including STEM courses for incarcerated students.