News


Chandralekha Singh Receives the 2017 University/Post-Secondary Educator Carnegie Science Center Award

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 22 March 2017

Chandralekha Singh is the 2017 winner of the Educator Awards/University Post-secondary Education which recognizes innovation in science and technology education at each of the following four levels: Elementary Educator; Middle Level Educator; High School Educator; and University/Post-secondary Educator.


Venkat Viswanathan's Research Featured in MIT News

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 22 March 2017

Venkat Viswanathan was featured in MIT News for his research in battery technologies. In collaboration with researchers from MIT, Viswanathan is studying a new kind of electrolyte for "self-healing" lithium battery cells, which could lead to longer driving range, lower cost electric vehicle batteries. 


The Scientific Community Mourns the Passing of Jeffry Madura

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 15 March 2017

The scientific community is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Jeffry Madura, professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences of Duquesne University. He was 59. He is survived by his wife Colleen and sons Brandon and Peyton.

Jeffry Madura first joined Duquesne in 1998 and served as chemistry and biochemistry chair from 2000-2010. He was well known among his students and highly respected by his colleagues. "Jeff Madura was a talented teacher, mentor and scholar, and-first and foremost-a consummate professional in every sense of the word," said BSNES Dean Dr. Philip Reeder. "He will be deeply missed, but his legacy will live on through his students."

Some of Jeffry Madura's various honors include the Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award in 1997; the 2002 BSNES award for Excellence in Service; the 2007 BSNES Award for Excellence in Scholarship; and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarship in 2007. In 2013, he was selected as Duquesne's inaugural Lambert F. Minucci Endowed Chair in Engineering and Computational Sciences.


David Waldeck's PNAS Article Highlighted in C&EN

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 15 March 2017

Quantum effect could explain how chiral molecules interact: Electron spin polarization promotes recognition between molecules of similar chirality.

Biomolecules from small amino acids to large DNA helices are chiral, and how they interact depends on their chirality. A newly identified quantum effect could help explain how biomolecules’ chirality persists. When two molecules interact, their electron clouds reorganize. In chiral molecules, that reorganization is accompanied by electron spin polarization that enables molecules of the same chirality to interact more strongly than molecules of opposite chirality, reports a research team led by Ron Naaman and Jan M. L. Martin of the Weizmann Institute of Science and David H. Waldeck of the University of Pittsburgh (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2017).

The mechanism that they have demonstrated is different from any that was previously reported,” comments David N. Beratan of Duke University. “If the idea holds up, it could entirely change the way we think about molecular recognition in biological and organic chemistry.”


Venkat Viswanathan Awarded Seed Grant from CMU's Scott Institute for Energy Innovation

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 8 March 2017

Venkat Viswanathan is one of the 2017 recipients of the fifth Scott Institute Seed Grants for Energy Research, which support Carnegie Mellon University faculty research in the areas of energy, environment, and policy.

He will develop a catalytic approach to improving the long-term stability of lithium-ion batteries by building a bridge between understanding electrocatalytic oxygen evolution and oxygen release in high voltage cathode materials. The aim is to remove obstacles, such as cost and limited storage capacity, that limit electric vehicle adoption.

Founded in 2013, this seed grant program has funded five annual rounds of applicants and a total of nearly 40 research teams. The 2017 funding alone totals nearly $553K from the Scott Institute and the EQT Foundation. The EQT Foundation contributed $178K to the 2017 fund; EQT-funded projects will specifically seed new research into natural gas-related issues. Eight research teams have received a 2017 Scott Institute Seed Grants for Energy Research.


Chirality-Induced Spin Polarization Places Symmetry Constraints on Biomolecular Interactions

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 1 March 2017

In an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1611467114), David Waldeck and colleagues in Israel propose a mechanism for the enantioselectivity (chiral specificity) of non-covalent interactions between chiral molecules. Their study examines how the non-covalent interactions between molecules give rise to enantioselective interaction energies. Non-covalent interactions do not involve the formation of a bond; rather they include electrostatic interactions between permanent or induced dipoles as the electron clouds of the molecules rearrange and the purely quantum exchange interaction as the wavefunctions of the molecules overlap. Their two part study shows experimentally that charge redistribution in chiral molecules is accompanied by spin polarization and it shows theoretically that the exchange interactions for homochiral (both molecules have the same handedness) interactions differ from heterochiral ones.


Daniel Lambrecht Receives 2017 Cottrell Scholar Award

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 1 March 2017

Daniel Lambrecht has been selected to receive a Research Corporation for Science Advancement 2017 Cottrell Scholar Award based on his proposal entitled "Bridging Quantum Chemistry and Chemical Intuition to Characterize, Understand and Design New Chemical Sensor Materials." 

Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) announces it has named two-dozen top early career academic scientists as 2017 Cottrell Scholars.The designation comes with a $100,000 award for each recipient for research and teaching, for a total of $2.4 million. “The Cottrell Scholar (CS) program champions the very best early career teacher-scholars in chemistry, physics and astronomy by providing these significant discretionary awards,” said RCSA Senior Program Director Silvia Ronco.

Read more about the award here.


Giannis Mpourmpakis Receives NSF CAREER Award

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 1 March 2017

Giannis Mpourmpakis' proposal "Designing synthesizable, ligand-protected bimetallic nanoparticles and modernizing engineering curriculum through computational nanoscience " was recently selected for an NSF CAREER award. 

Although scientists can chemically synthesize metal nanoparticles (NPs) of different shapes and sizes, understanding of NP growth mechanisms affecting their final morphology and associated properties is limited. With the potential for NPs to impact fields from energy to medicine and the environment, determining with computer simulations the NP growth mechanisms and morphologies that can be synthesized in the lab is critical to advance NP application. 
Because this is a relatively new field, traditional core courses in science and engineering lack examples from the nanotechnology arena. In addition to improving the research, the award will enable Giannis Mpourmpakis and his students to modernize the traditional course of Chemical Thermodynamics by introducing animation material based on cutting-edge nanotechnology examples, and developing a nanoscale-inspired interactive computer game.


Paving the Way Towards 1D Helical Conductors with Fractional Quantum Statistics

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 22 February 2017

In a letter published in the February 2017 issue of Nature Nanotechnology, Ben Hunt and his collaborators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California Santa Barbara, and the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, Japan describe how they engineered a graphene electron–hole bilayer device into a helical 1-dimensional (1D) conductor and characterized its transport properties. In a helical 1D conductor, electrons moving in opposite directions also have opposite spin polarizations, and such helical states can be obtained by combining two quantum Hall (QH) edge states with opposite spins and opposite momenta relative to the magnetic field (i.e. opposite chiralities).

My colleagues at MIT came up with this ingenious way of producing helical edge states from two decoupled graphene layers, and then they proved their idea worked with a series of powerful transport experiments,” says Hunt. “I was thrilled to be able to make a contribution to the experiment by using capacitance measurements to help prove that the unique helical states they observe really are edge states.”

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