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 grant supports the enhancement and institutionalization of Creative Design for Affordability (CDfA), a new course in the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. CDfA, established in collaboration with faculty from Cornell’s College of Human Ecology Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, is an experiential course focused on the role that design and technology development plays in private sector innovation and social entrepreneurship.
Through this grant, Cornell faculty will be able to support approximately five multidisciplinary E-Teams per year working with peers in India on the development and launch of businesses addressing global societal challenges. Specifically, funding will help to strengthen the effectiveness of the interdisciplinary content of the course by supporting the integration of business, design, and technological innovation; ensure that cross-national, US-India E-Teams collaborate in creating viable technologies addressing critical problems; and assure E-Teams gain access to mentorship resources inside and outside the classroom.
Dairy farmers, animal processing facilities, and wastewater treatment plants use biogas generated from the anaerobic digestion of organic matter to stabilize their waste streams, facilitating processing for disposal or its conversion into usable by-products. NCIIA funding supported this E-Team in completing a technical feasibility study for a modular reactor that pressurizes and purifies biogas produced from anaerobic digestion of biomass using a closed-loop system. It was the first step toward commercialization of biogas-producing technology for use by commercial, industrial, and consumer clients who could benefit from a reliable source of clean, renewable energy.
The US water supply and wastewater treatment is a $110 billion industry, of which $32.1 billion (30%) was spent in 2002 on capital improvements at municipal wastewater treatment facilities. In the next six years, municipalities are expected to spend an additional $100 billion to meet state and federal environmental standards. The team's goal was to determine a practical system design and identify appropriate markets for commercialization, developing a thorough understanding of the economic value proposition for this technology.
This E-Team undertook two separate activities: prototyping its micro-fuel cell technology, and creating a long-term marketing plan. The technology is PM2, a novel planar, micro-fluidic, membraneless micro-fuel cell that relies on laminar flow of fuel and oxidant solutions. Initial lab tests demonstrated that the design has the potential to deliver superior power density to portable electronic devices when compared with competing membrane and membraneless fuel cell designs.
The team continued prototyping PM2 to go from a 1-mW lab device to a 10-watt commercial prototype with an appropriate price. Alongside prototype development the team identified manufacturing, distribution, sales, and venture capital partners, segmented markets, determined market entry point, and identified partners for commercialization. The primary target markets are the defense and industrial sectors, specifically in the areas of portable power, wireless scanning, and communication devices.