This Phase I CCI will combine experimental and theoretical approaches to understanding the relationships between the molecular, mesoscale and bulk properties of neat conjugated polymers. The CCI team will test the theory that intra- and inter-polymer chain interactions give rise to macroscopic materials properties in predictable and systematic ways. The CCI will focus on the molecular origins of the bulk properties of polythiophene and other conjugated polymers that may be useful in a variety of electronic and photovoltaic applications.
The Center for Molecular Tools for Conjugated Polymer Analysis and Optimization will offer a unique educational and professional training environment by integrating spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction, microscopy, synthesis and theoretical approaches. The Center will also promote the participation of a diverse group of future scientists and engineers.
Chemical Bonding Centers (CBC) Phase I program will carry out research addressing several fundamental aspects of proton transport, the molecular level process which underlies a number of important biological phenomena as well as the functioning of a central component in fuel cells. Proton transfer is a key aspect of a broad array of chemical problems, including acid-base reactions, energy storage and utilization, and catalysis. The center is focusing its investigation of the chemistry of proton conduction via site-to-site jumps and well-defined scaffolds. The main objectives are to (i) identify optimal functional groups and the underlying dynamics of facile proton transfer; and (ii) fabricate ideal scaffolds that produce stable and rapid proton conduction.
An important application area of this research is the design of better membranes for fuel cells. In keeping with this goal, the CBC will create a web-based entity, the National Chemical Energy Research Network, NCERN, that will (i) act as a dynamic interface among energy researchers and research centers; and (ii) foster better communication between chemists working on energy-related research and the general public. NCERN will facilitate the creation of wiki pages and will moderate interactive chats on these subjects. The center is having a broad impact both through the activities of NCERN as well as through its function as an interdisciplinary training center for graduate students and postdoctorals.
The Center for Green Materials Chemistry will develop a fundamentally new chemistry-based platform for synthesizing environmentally benign, functional inorganic films. Three key research areas include (1) develop new nanocluster chemistries using abundant, environmentally benign metals;(2) use these chemistries to produce previously unrealized nanostructured laminates and composites; (3) apply these chemistries to the fabrication of vertical transport transistors.
Aqueous-based processing of functional inorganic films can reduce the costs of electronics manufacturing and enable the use of large-area substrates while simultaneously reducing chemical hazards and waste. The Center has strong industry partnerships. The Center Education Plan will promote early entry and short time to degree, broadened perspectives, and collaborative mentorships. The Outreach Plan includes the production of captivating imagery and videos to illustrate technically demanding material and the human element of science.
This Phase I CCI will explore promising molecular materials for spintronics: diamagnetic metal complexes of phthalocyanines, bistable paramagnetic molecules, and semiconducting oligomers. The highly integrated research program will include synthesis and characterization, detailed surface structure and bonding studies, spin injection and transport measurements, and computational modeling. The initial goals of the interdisciplinary team of researchers are to elucidate the structure-spintronic property relationships of paramagnetic complexes and also to study how the electronic structure and magneto-electronic structures of these molecules are influenced by integration into solid state environments.
The Center for Molecular Spintronics will develop new coursework in the emerging field of molecular spintronics. Students and postdoctoral researchers trained in this interdisciplinary (chemistry, physics, materials science) environment will be prepared to be scientific leaders in this field. The Center for Molecular Spintronics will partner with the local and regional companies to ensure that this science can be incorporated into the next generation of molecular electronics and nanotechnology innovations.
Phase I program will carry out research on the chemical origin of life. The project is based on the theory that life evolved from prebiotic precursors that spontaneously assembled into RNA-like polymers. Questions that are being addressed include: What molecules were potentially present in the prebiotic chemical inventory? What molecules can self-assemble to form RNA-like polymers? And what molecules could have acted as prebiotic catalysts for the formation or assembly of other molecules? There are three principal objectives of the CBC: (i) to determine the potential building blocks of RNA-like polymers and to understand the reactions which form them; (ii) to uncover possible early metabolisms and mechanisms of self-assembly that could have selectively produced and coupled these building blocks into more complex molecules, eventually leading to RNA-like polymers; and (iii) to develop a distributed, cyber-enabled approach to advancing our knowledge of model prebiotic chemical reactions that will involve undergraduate students and their local mentors.
The work is having a broad impact in a number of ways: through the participation of women and under-represented minorities, particularly through the HBCU partner institutions of Spelman and Jackson State University; through the development of a high school outreach program that is making prebiotic experiments accessible to high school chemistry teachers; by further developing an existing course on "Chemistry of the Origin of Life" and through a research seminar series for freshmen on the "Origins of Order"; and through plans to disseminate information about the center through radio, local public television, computer graphics, and web-based educational modules.
This Phase I Center will address the foremost challenges in the field of C—H functionalization: the regioselective and stereoselective modification of unsaturated carbon centers. The goal is to make available a suite of chemical transformations for C-C, C-N, C-O, and C-X bond formation that are predictable, general, and utilitarian. The realization of this objective will provide novel technologies that change traditional paradigms for the logic of chemical synthesis.
The Center for Stereoselective C-H Functionalization will broadly share their research results to maximize the impact of this award. The Center will also fund collaborative training opportunities between Center investigators and also with industrial partners for graduate students and postdocs. The Center will partner with regional Minority Serving Institutions (HBCUs or HSIs) to provide symposia and research opportunities to students from under-represented groups. Center investigators will also engage high school teachers and students in the Center projects.
The Center for Molecular Interfacing (CMI) will enable the integration of well-controlled molecular constituents within macroscopic systems by using graphene sheets and carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to achieve molecularly well-defined, reproducible and robust connections. This interdisciplinary and inter-institutional team of researchers will (1) study electrical and opto-electronic properties of graphene-molecule-graphene and CNT-molecule-CNT devices with mechanical adjustability, electrolytic gating, and optical access; (2) use AFM and STM to characterize the molecule-graphene interface; and (3) use advanced laser microscopy to identify and excite individual electrically-contacted molecules. This work will be enabled by the development of novel experimental platforms and techniques, synthesis of molecular architectures of deliberate design and function, and the development of a theoretical framework. Fundamental chemical processes such as self-exchange rates in redox reactions, the distance dependence of electron transfer, and photoinduced electron transfer can all be studied by precisely modulating the spacing in graphene-molecule-graphene structures.
These studies will provide the knowledge base to enable revolutionary advances in technologies such as energy conversion and storage, sensing, information technologies, and catalysis. The proposed work combines chemistry and physics at the cutting edge of science and technology and provides students with collaborative interdisciplinary research training. Particular emphasis will be placed in the recruitment and retention of women and underrepresented minorities at all educational levels. Young children in Puerto Rico will participate in a novel bilingual outreach program "Molecules meet Macro" in partnership with the Casa Pueblo Cooperative in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. Center researchers will also participate in local news features, demonstrations and exhibits at a local science museum, and other public outreach projects.
This Phase-I Center for Chemical Innovation will seek to discover, characterize and subsequently utilize a wide range of highly energetic and non-equilibrium chemical processes at interfaces. This will enable transformative advances in catalysis, materials growth and processing, and condensed state environmental chemistry. Scientific opportunities include the preparation of new classes of metastable interfaces with enhanced catalytic function, chemistry carried out with different reagent and substrate temperatures leading to enhanced process selectivity, new concepts in carbon dioxide management, and the creation of new or refined functional materials based on growth and processing under energetic and non-equilibrium conditions. The CCI brings a wide range of tools to bear on this grand challenge, including supersonic and hyperthermal molecular beams, in situ and ex situ scanning probe and electron microscopy, a complete suite of surface science and optical analytical spectroscopies, quantum chemical and materials computation, and molecular dynamics, molecular mechanics and Monte Carlo simulations.
The Center for Energetic Non-Equilibrium Chemistry at Interfaces (CENECI) will support collaborative and team-based discovery that integrates researchers at the University of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Montana State University and Northwestern University. Postdoctoral fellows as well as students at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels will participate in research activities in more than one CENECI laboratory, thus significantly broadening their training and introducing them to team-based discovery. These activities will be enabled by cyberinfrastructure links among all of the groups and a CENECI website, allowing ready participation in meetings, seminars, computation, and experiments from afar. A comprehensive outreach program will accompany activities at all institutions, with the focus during Phase-I being on chemistry education enrichment to the local underrepresented Hispanic and African-American K-12 populations in Chicago, Madison, and Boston, as well the Native American communities of Montana.
The National Science Foundation’s program, Centers for Chemical Innovation or "CCI", supports research centers focused on major, long-term fundamental chemical research challenges aimed at producing transformative research, lead to innovation, and attract broad scientific and public interest. CCIs may partner with researchers from industry, government laboratories and international organizations and must integrate research, innovation, education, and public outreach and include a plan to broaden participation of underrepresented groups.
The CCI program is a two-phase program. Phase 1 grants are $1.5M for three years with the opportunity to apply for a Phase 2 grant for $20M over 4 years.
Research to Innovation at CCI The CCI Research to Innovation (R2I) program has been designed expressly for researchers engaged in the National Science Foundation’s Phase 1 Centers for Chemical Innovation (CCI).
The goal of the R2I program is to ensure that Phase 1 CCI Center researchers have the skills to effectively translate their research into innovations and to develop and execute an aligned R2I translation plan. Both the innovation ideas and the translation plan can act as part of the preparation for a CCI Phase 2 submittal.
The workshops provide CCI participants—faculty, post docs, students and their support ecosystem—with the skills to:
Utilize and implement the R2I process as specifically related to their research;
Define innovation options from their research that are aligned with market needs;
Develop a R2I translation plan
Develop criteria for analyzing and evaluating R2I translation plans
This program is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, Chemistry Division into the National Collegiate Inventors & Innovators Alliance.