Scientists at Johns Hopkins, UCLA find that copper particles stabilize the platinum-nickel catalysts that hydrogen fuel cells use to produce clean electricity.More
The faculty in our department seek to improve the performance of existing materials, synthesize new materials, and understand materials in all of their roles, including in the functioning of biological organisms. Their research addresses a wide range of problems in materials applications. The following faculty have received recent funding to further pursue their research goals.
Dr. Anthony Shoji Hall, assistant professor, was awarded National Science Foundation Grant.
Base Metal Rich Pd-Bi Ordered Intermetallics for the Oxygen Reduction Reaction
This project examines the use of ordered intermetallic PdBi2 prepared by low temperature colloidal synthesis for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). Preliminary results indicate that PdBi2 is one of the most active catalysts reported for ORR. To understand the origin of high catalytic activity we will perform a variety of kinetic and spectroscopic studies to gain insight on the structure-property relationships of this material.
Dr. Hai-Quan Mao, professor and associate director of INBT, was awarded a Johns Hopkins Discovery Award.
Engineered IGF-1 Nanoparticles to Improve Functional Recovery from Peripheral Nerve Injury
Peripheral nerve injuries (PNI) tend to result in poor functional recovery following surgical repair. Treatment options to enhance the regenerative process are currently lacking. Growth hormone (GH) therapies have shown promise in this regard by enhancing axonal regeneration while also maintaining denervated muscle and Schwann cells. To avoid the toxicities of systemic GH therapy, we developed a novel local delivery system for IGF-1, the primary downstream effector of the GH-axis, in which the protein is stabilized and encapsulated in biodegradable nanoparticles that provide sustained, controlled release to target tissues. We will optimize this promising treatment strategy and assess efficacy in a translational nerve injury model in which chronic denervation is induced prior to repair. Our goal is to develop the first therapy that can be used to improve functional outcomes in patients with PNI.
Dr. Patricia McGuiggan, associate research professor, was awarded a Johns Hopkins Discovery Award.
Uncovering Forbidden Fruit
The Sheridan Libraries recently purchased a rare 2nd edition book printed in 1547. The book was edited by Erasmus (Desiderius Erasmus, 1466 – 1536) and contains of the works of St. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus; ca 200 – 258). The book also contains a 19 page preface written by Erasmus that has been completely expurgated in red and black paint, in accordance with the edicts of the Council of Trent (1545-1563). The primary goal of this project is to non-destructively unveil the expurgated text using a variety of imaging techniques. Other goals of the project include: (a) Analyze the pigments (paint and ink) and paper to understand the provenance of the volume and gather data that will assist in the planning of conservation treatments and/or long-term preservation strategies (b) Develop imaging techniques which will aid in the reading of this imprint and other printed works and manuscripts (c) Aid the teaching of undergraduate courses on the history of censorship, imaging and image analysis, and materials science characterization courses and (d) Provide information to scholars/curators/post-docs/students.
Exotic Superconductors by Design
Superconductors are materials in which an electrical current flows with zero resistance below some critical temperature, Tc. They already find application in devices ranging from MRIs to microwave filters on cell towers, despite currently being limited to cryogenic temperatures. More crucially, to date, superconductors have been discovered by accident – despite significant progress in the fundamental physics of superconductivity, we are still unable to design new superconductors, and this has prevented their transformative use in areas from fundamental physics to power generation and distribution. We seek to change that.
Dr. Jonah Erlebacher, department chair and professor, was awarded an NSF DMR Grant.
Nanocomposite and nanoporous metals consisting of multiple interpenetrating but compositionally distinct solid and void phases hold promise for structural applications requiring high strength, high ductility, radiation tolerance, catalysis, sensing, supercapacitors, batteries, and as templates to make new nanocomposites via backfilling. A technique we have pioneered to make such materials is dealloying- selective dissolution of one component from a multi-component allow. Our initial explorations in this involved electrochemical dealloying (ECD), which helped develop high surface area electrocatalysts; more recently, we have studied liquid metal dealloying (LMD), in which the dissolution medium is a liquid metal. Together, these techniques allow the formation of nanoporous or nanocomposite materials from most of the solid phase elements in the periodic table. In this proposal, we explore the next generation of dealloyed nanostructured materials, using a concept we call powder-based dealloying (PBD).
Dr. Howard Katz, professor, has received an award from the MD Innovation Institute.
The Maryland Innovation Initiative (“MII”) Innovation Commercialization Program (the “Program”) was created to foster the transition of promising technologies having significant commercial potential from Qualifying Universities (defined below), where they were discovered, to the commercial sector, where they can be developed into products and services that meet identified market needs. Specifically, it is the intent of the Program to foster the commercialization of such technologies through technology validation, market assessment, and the creation of University start-up companies in Maryland. A “University Start-up” is a company reliant on a technology licensed from a Qualified University for commencement of its operations. It is also the intent of the Program to foster collaborations between various schools, departments, and institutions within and among the Qualifying Universities and among other research organizations in the State. The Program is divided up into two phases, a Technology Assessment Phase for Qualified Universities, and a Company Formation Phase (for University Start-ups).
Dr. Margarita Herrera-Alonso, assistant research scientist, was awarded an NSF award.
Dr. Herrera-Alonso will work as PI with Co-PI Michael Bevan.
Diffusion Colloidal Probe Microscopy of Zwitterionic Nanoparticles
Recent attempts to mimic the anti-biofouling properties of the external membrane of mammalian cells on synthetic substrates are increasingly relying on the use of zwitterionic-based materials, i.e., those bearing positively and negatively charged groups. In the context of biomaterials intended for drug delivery applications, surface modification methods that preclude aggregation, precipitation or clearance of diagnostic or therapeutic nanoparticles are particularly important to extend their circulation time in the body, and allow them to accumulate at specific sites through active targeting. Despite the tremendous potential of zwitterionic-based materials, little is known regarding weak interactions between particles and cells due to the limited sensitivity of existing techniques. In this work, the PIs will measure nanometer scale interactions between cells and zwitterionic-decorated particles using non-intrusive microscopy measurements of particle trajectories and analyses that reveal weak interactions. The PIs will use this method to evaluate interactions between nanoparticles functionalized with zwitterionic polymers with well-defined molecular architectures and cell surfaces. Outreach efforts will involve participation of undergraduate students in research, and community involvement through an education-based Latino outreach program and STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools.
Professor Kalina Hristova has received an NSF grant for her project titled Collaborative Research: Lipid bilayers and membrane-active peptides.
The work under this award will reveal the fundamental principles of sequence and structure for pH-triggered and pH-insensitive peptides that cause macromolecule-sized destabilization of membranes, allowing passage of macromolecules at very low concentrations. This basic knowledge is currently lacking and is a roadblock in the design of membrane-active peptides with broad applicability. The basic knowledge that will be gained through this work will be a significant advancement in the field of membrane-active peptides. The activity that will be studied here with this award, macromolecular-sized pore formation, has not been explored thus far and its fundamental principles and mechanism of actions are unknown. Yet, it has many potential applications in biotechnology and medicine. Success in this work may enable the rational design and preparation of membrane-active peptides for drug delivery and biosensing, as well as for cancer therapies, anti-viral and anti-bacterial treatments, and in agriculture for the controlled and effective release of insecticides and fungicides at very low doses. The proposed research and outreach activities will promote interest in science, exchange of knowledge, and create synergistic interactions between students and researchers at different levels in different disciplines.
Assistant professor Tim Mueller received a grant from the Toyota Corporation.
High-throughput computational design of coating materials on Electrodes for All-solid-state Batteries
For each combination of electrode material and solid-state electrolyte, identify combinations of one or more layers of intermediate coating materials that could form stable interfaces across the operating potential range of the battery. Downselect the coating materials based on factors including the rate at which they conduct lithium ions, their ability to accommodate volume changes upon cycling, electrical conductivity, and estimated cost.
Professor Mueller was also awarded an NSF MATDAT Hackathon award alongside Co-PIs Brian Reich, Andrew Ferguson, and Sanguthevar Rajasekaran.
The Division of Materials Research, the Division of Information and Intelligent Systems, and the Division of Mathematical Sciences contribute funds to this award. It supports the organization of a “data hackathon” in which interdisciplinary teams, each composed of both materials researchers and data scientists, will work together to apply advanced data science methods to address important, challenging problems in the intrinsically interdisciplinary field of materials research. The goal of this hackathon is to spark new collaborations in which important, challenging problems in materials science are addressed in novel ways by leading methods in data science.
The exponential increase in materials data and in available computing power has made it possible to generate and analyze large amounts of materials data. Initiatives such as the Materials Project have created publicly accessible databases containing the structure and properties of tens of thousands of materials. In addition to these general-purpose resources, individual research groups are generating large data sets for more specific materials research problems. One of the leading challenges in materials science and engineering is determining how to best make use of this abundance of materials data in the process to design and discover new materials with desired properties and accelerate their deployment in existing technologies and innovate new technologies. Despite the considerable progress that has been made in the application of data analytics and machine learning to materials science in recent years, there is still a fundamental problem in that most experts in materials science and engineering are not experts in data science, and data scientists are not experts in materials research. This “data hackathon” activity is aimed to bring the materials research community and the data science community together to attack significant problems where a data-centric approach may be able to make progress and to stimulate collaboration among the communities.
This “data hackathon” will be fundamentally interdisciplinary by construction. Small groups of researchers representing both data and materials sciences will work face-to-face for several days on substantial materials problems. It is hoped that materials researchers are exposed to cutting-edge statistics and machine-learning techniques, and data scientist are motivated to develop new methods to analyze the novel data streams produced by materials researchers. The participant application process will also emphasize inclusion of junior researchers and under-represented groups.
Dr. Ken Livi, Director, Material Characterization and Processing, has recently been awarded a grant from NASA to study space weathering on the Moon’s surface.
Dr. Livi is working with Dr. Joshua T.S. Cahill of APL Civil Space, who is serving as Principal Investigator.
CONSTRAINING LUNAR SURFACE MATURITY IN THE ULTRAVIOLET
Solar wind effects the surface of matter in space and is called space weathering. Much of our understanding of solar system material comes from remote sensing data that use the ultraviolet and near-infrared spectra collected by satellites. This study aims to understand how space weathering effects the surfaces of lunar soils, and thus, the information that satellites collect from the Moon.
Dr. Howard Katz, professor, has been awarded a Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future (DMREF) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Dr. Katz is working in conjunction with Dr. J.D. Tovar from the Department of Chemistry on this project.
COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH: SELF-ASSEMBLED PEPTIDE-PI-ELECTRON SUPRAMOLECULAR POLYMERS FOR BIOINSPIRED ENERGY HARVESTING, TRANSPORT, AND MANAGEMENT
Nature exquisitely controls the spatial arrangement of key chromophores within photosynthetic machinery to harness solar energy, and controlled arrangement of donor-acceptor conjugated subunits has been realized synthetically through covalent chemistry and supramolecular assembly. However, exerting reliable control over the solid-state assembly of soft electronic materials into discrete objects at the increasingly important 10 -100 nm size regime remains elusive both synthetically and with nanofabrication. Such mesoscopic structures can combine charge and energy transfer activities with capabilities for assembly in biological media, and compatibility with biological structures. It is thus compelling to explore pi-functional materials in biotically-inspired superstructures, which remain relatively undeveloped. Given the multitude of molecular design possibilities, it is essential that experimental programs incorporate molecular modeling and data-driven screening to guide synthesis. Tight integration and mutually reinforcing feedback between computation and experiment can reveal fundamental design rules for molecular assembly, and accelerate the discovery and development of supramolecular assemblies with tailored structure and function. This project will develop these superstructures in a collaboration encompassing molecular synthesis, biomimetic self-assembly, morphological and electronic modeling, and optoelectronic functionality.
Dr. Katz was also awarded the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research 2017 Seed Grant.
There is currently a blood test for pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, it is not specific enough to use as a screening method for the general public but instead is limited to patients who are already known to have pancreatic cancer and are being treated and monitored. While there has been some recent improvement in the effectiveness and diversity of the treatments, the five-year survival rates have only inched forward from 2 to 5% up to 6 or 7% in the past 2 or 3 years because detection comes too late for surgery or curative chemotherapy. Thus, earlier detection is still an absolute requirement for more widespread curing of pancreatic cancer. This proposal builds on the existing blood test by adding markers to the tested molecules to reveal whether they come from pancreatic cancer or some other disorder. The vision is that changing the sugar nutrients supplying a tumor will make the blood test more informative and specific enough to identify pancreatic cancer with enough confidence to be used in early screening tests. There are many types of molecules that are generated in tumors from these sugars, and the combination of the molecules that are found to have the markers on them when they come from pancreatic cancer will be much less likely to be confused with combinations that are associated with other medical conditions. The hope is to make the blood test specific enough to gain approval for screening a much larger fraction of the population than is possible now.
Dr. Todd Hufnagel, professor, has been awarded a grant from the Corning Incorporated Foundation. Dr. Hufnagel is working with Dr. Kaliat Ramesh from the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI) on this project.
FUNDAMENTAL STUDIES RELATING TO DYNAMIC INDENTATION IN GLASS
We propose to study the fundamental mechanisms associated with the dynamic indentation of glass. In the long term, our approach will include both fundamental experiments and physics-based models; however, we will begin by developing some fundamental experiments that provide insight into the behavior and mechanisms under 3 extreme deformations and the initiation of failure.
Additive manufacturing has become a highly valuable technique for rapid prototyping and for manufacturing of complicated parts that cannot be produced easily otherwise. To date, most additive manufacturing implementations have focused primarily on metal and polymer materials, but non-oxide ceramics are an important class of materials with many applications that could benefit from the use of additive manufacturing methods. Our vision is to develop a reactive binder concept for the formulation of precursors for ceramic additive manufacturing.
Dr. Patricia McGuiggan, associate research professor, and graduate student Elliot Wainwright received a Technology Fellowship from the Johns Hopkins Center for Educational Resources (CER).
Their project is titled “Virtual Laboratory Experiments in Materials Characterization.”
Visit the CER website for more information about the Technology Fellowship program.
Dr. Margarita Herrera-Alonso, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, is the recipient of an award from NSF.
The advancement of polymerization methods has enabled the synthesis of increasingly complex macromolecules, both from an architectural perspective, as well as from a functional one. In this project, we will advance the knowledge regarding solution assemblies from architecturally complex macromolecules–namely, amphiphilic asymmetric molecular brushes (AAMBs), a particular kind of graft copolymer–through a systematic examination of the molecular and process parameters that dictate their aggregate properties.
Dr. James Spicer, professor of materials science and engineering, is the recipient of an award from the Missile Defense Agency.
The purpose of this effort is to employ alternative electrolyte, cathode, and pyrotechnic materials to improve thermal battery technology. Novel pyrotechnic materials composed of bi-layer nickel-aluminum microstructures will be developed to enable the integration of novel electrolyte and cathode materials.
Dr. Howard Katz, professor of materials science and engineering, is a co-investigator on an collaboration between Yale University and Johns Hopkins University. The collaboration is supported by EPA funding.
Armed with a $3 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a Johns Hopkins research team joined forces with researchers at Yale University and other universities to form an EPA Center on Air, Climate, and Energy. The Johns Hopkins team is led by Ben Hobbs, E²SHI Director and Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering and includes six other Johns Hopkins faculty. This multidisciplinary project will produce detailed estimates of the health consequences of energy choices, while also identifying key modifiable factors – such as transportation, land-use, and power generation – and how those factors and their air pollution impacts are likely to change over time.
Dr. Howard Katz, professor of materials science and engineering, has been awarded an APL work agreement and SBIR Phase II funding from AFOSR.
The objective of this IRAD project is to develop n-type and p-type organic thermoelectric materials. We will use these materials to make high performance, flexible thermoelectric generators. As a long-term goal, we envision the development of wearable, low profile generators that are able to provide autonomous power for sensors and devices from ambient thermal gradients.
This partnership with Nano Terra, Inc., will seek to fabricate and validate OFET biosensors made by scalable manufacturing processes. Large-scale production of biosensors will establish a new market in medical diagnostics and provide new tools for the next generation of advanced consumer products. The industrial development of an OFET technology will help bridge the gap between industry and academic efforts to accelerate organic electronics development. (Link)
Dr. Tim Weihs, professor of materials science and engineering, is the co-principal investigator of a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). James K. Guest, associate professor of civil engineering, is the lead investigator on the project.
This interdisciplinary project will create a topology optimization-driven framework for the design and manufacture of 3D woven materials with tunable vibration damping capabilities. 3D weaving is a highly efficient manufacturing process where yarns or wires are arranged in a sequence of orthogonal patterns. Topology optimization is a computational, systematic approach for designing the micro-scale architecture of materials. This project will integrate these two approaches to design, manufacture, and experimentally test 3D woven metallic materials whose micro-architecture is optimized to achieve targeted damping properties at elevated temperatures. Such materials would find a broad range of applications in transportation, manufacturing, power generation and most structural applications that are susceptible to fatigue and elevated temperature exposure. It would also create a new avenue of applications for textile manufacturers.
Dr. Ken Livi, director of the Materials Characterization and Processing Facility, is the recipient of an award from University of Wisconsin/NSF.
Owing to their extraordinary sorption, oxidation, and photochemical properties, birnessite minerals impose significant impact on contaminant environmental fate and transport and also have many industrial applications. This project will identify the geochemical processes that control birnessite vacancy and Mn(III) concentrations, and determine their kinetics and mechanisms and the effects of environmental solution conditions. The proposed research is an integration of mineralogy, geochemistry, microbiology, environmental science, and materials science.
Dr. Tim Weihs, professor of materials science and engineering, is the recipient of a DTRA-sponsored project through the Small Business Technology Transfer.
Many inorganic formation and reduction/oxidation reactions are known to proceed rapidly in a self-propagating or thermal combustion mode and they are currently being considered for use in defeating WMD targets, hard targets, buried targets and bio-agents. We will characterize the magnitude and duration of heat production for particle compacts containing reactive laminate particles and HI3O8 particles using bomb calorimetry and high-speed imaging following electrical ignition.
Dr. Jonah Erlebacher, professor and chair of materials science and engineering, is the recipient of an award from ARPA-E.
This project will seek to develop the foundational technology for a system that converts natural gas (methane) directly to carbon fiber. Low-cost, lightweight carbon fiber would replace steel and aluminum in vehicles, increasing fuel economy dramatically.
Dr. Tim Mueller, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, is the recipient of two grants from the Office of Naval Research.
Genetic programming is a powerful machine learning method that has been successfully used in a variety of fields, but to date it has seen little use in fundamental materials research. This project will apply genetic programming to problems in materials science and engineering in two ways. First, researchers will construct a genetic programming algorithm for the automated generation of interatomic potential models. Second, strategies to discover simple relationships between materials properties will be explored. The results of this research will provide a foundation for the development of sophisticated data-centric computational tools, which will be used to accelerate materials discovery and design.
Dr. Todd Hufnagel, professor of materials science and engineering, is the recipient of a Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) grant.
One of the major challenges associated with in situ visualization of dynamic damage in heterogeneous materials is quantifying the degree of damage within the material. This project will focus on developing high-speed in situ x-ray phase contrast imaging as a reliable, quantitative tool for analysis of damage evolution in geological materials under dynamic models, and building physics-based constitutive models for such materials that incorporate the observed failure mechanisms.
Dr. Evan Ma, professor materials science and engineering, is the recipient of a grant from the National Science Foundation.
This project aims to develop accelerated molecular dynamics simulation routes capable of producing metallic glass structures that give potential energy, atomic density, elastic constants, and ultimately degree of order similar to real-world metallic glasses. The knowledge gained from this research will provide an unprecedented understanding of the internal structures of metallic glasses.
Dr. Hai-Quan Mao, professor of materials science and engineering, is the recipient of two JHU Discovery Awards.
The funded projects are titled “Engineering Artificial Lymph Nodes for Cancer Immunotherapy” and “Nanoparticle-based Therapeutic Strategy to Target an RNA-binding Protein Termed TDP-43 in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.”
Dr. Patricia McGuiggan, associate research professor of materials science and engineering, is the recipient of a JHU Discovery Award.
Her research project is titled “Reverse Engineering Ancient Ceramics.”
Dr. Peter Searson, the Joseph R. and Lynn C. Reynolds Professor of materials science and engineering, is the recipient of a JHU Discovery Award.
His research project is titled “Human Performance: Role of Acute Exercise in Enhancing Cognitive Function.”
Dr. Kalina Hristova, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and the Marlin U. Zimmerman Jr. Faculty Scholar, is the recipient of an NIH grant.
This research will explore the novel concept that most RTKs follow a universal activation mechanism, with the difference rooted in the exact value of the unliganded dimerization constant, rather than the fundamental receptor behavior. For the first time, a methodology will be established that allows quantitative RTK dimerization measurements for physiological expression levels. This knowledge will help the scientific community in the search for novel RTK inhibitors that can be used to combat human cancers and growth disorders.
Dr. Hai-Quan Mao, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, is the recipient of an NIH grant.
This research will focus on developing a new, generalizable method for synthesizing shape-controlled DNA micelles while providing a mechanistic understanding of shape-dependent transport properties of nanoparticles. Through the use of experimental and computational strategies, this research has the potential to address a crucial knowledge gap in the engineering and delivery of DNA nanotherapeutics and establish a new paradigm that will accelerate the discovery and development of new DNA nanoparticle systems for efficient gene medicine delivery, particularly in service of cancer theranostics.
Related: Hai-Quan Mao Awarded NIH Grant
Dr. Howard Katz, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, is the recipient of an NIH grant.
This research will address the clinical need for immediate point-of-care and continuous-monitoring diagnostics for brain injury by focusing on developing a highly sensitive electronic device platform for detecting pg/mL protein levels. Current state of the art methods for detecting brain injury are expensive, labor intensive, not point of care, lack portability, and impose excessive time delays. The methods employed in this research have the potential to advance progress toward practical—and clinically relevant—real time brain injury detection.
Dr. James Spicer, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, has been awarded grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the US Department of Energy.
This research focuses on fundamental issues connected to the synthesis and processing of polymer matrix nanocomposites (PMNCs). The methods being investigated allow for the scalable production of materials with specific engineered properties related to photochromic, photocatalytic or photosynthetic behaviors. In the case of photochromic PMNCs, related processing methods could lead to coatings for windows that would have a broad impact on the national energy budget. Optically-based processing also permits controlled patterning of PMNCs allowing for creation of functional, hierarchical microstructures. This project also includes educational outreach efforts through the Johns Hopkins University Center for Educational Outreach which provides laboratory experiences for high school students from underrepresented groups.
Sponsor: US Department of Energy
This research, a collaborative effort with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, seeks to understand the characteristics of material dispersal that occurs when solid rocket motors fail. During such conflagrative events, fuel can react with materials in the payload and release species whose subsequent fate and transport must be understood for effective rocket design. Under this program, aerosols from fires and related surrogates are being analyzed for elemental content and material structure to support remote optical detection of fire products. This information will be used for simulations of these types of events as well as for design of fault tolerant payload modules.
Dr. Timothy Weihs, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, is the recipient of funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).
This project will focus on the mechanical fabrication of reactive composite particles to produce an extended and controllable burn time and the optimization of the particle compacts through modeling and experiments. Compacts with reactive composite particles will provide unique capabilities to produce extended and controlled durations of heat production and biocidal suspensions for bioagent defeat.
Scientists at Johns Hopkins, UCLA find that copper particles stabilize the platinum-nickel catalysts that hydrogen fuel cells use to produce clean electricity.More
Professor Evan Ma co-authors a Nature Review Materials article, to review the science and applications of phase- change materials in…More
Suhas Eswarappa Prameela was awarded the best poster award at this years 2019 Mach Conference in Annapolis Maryland. Suhas’s research…More