RTNN faculty win REU Site Award focused on perovskites

Perovskite crystal structure

Congratulations to Professors Jim Cahoon (UNC), David Mitzi (Duke) and Aram Amassian (NC State) for receiving NSF funding to launch a new collaborative REU site focused on hybrid perovskite materials. Under this award, twelve students will conduct research in faculty labs across the three RTNN institutions. To strengthen inter-institutional relationships, each student will partner with a peer working on a complementary project at a different RTNN university. Team-building, professional development, and social activities will be interwoven into the program schedule. The first cohort of students will begin in summer 2022.

There are three objectives for this REU program: (1) To provide a hands-on research experience in hybrid perovskite materials that reinforces student knowledge of cutting-edge characterization techniques and analytical tools that can be used to evaluate the nanoscopic structure of hybrid perovskite systems; (2) to foster student interest in pursuing a career in STEM fields, especially those from underrepresented groups; and (3) to develop communication and networking skills in each of the participants.

More information for the program will be posted on the RTNN website in Fall 2021. If you are interested in receiving updates about this exciting new program, please contact Maude Cuchiara (mlrowlan@ncsu.edu).

RTNN Facilities Support COVID-19 Research

Protochips uses the NC State Nanofabrication Facility and Analytical Instrumentation Facility to manufacture and analyze in situ TEM holders and sample supports. One of Protochips’s customers, the McLellan Lab at the University of Texas, determined the 3D structure of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, a critical first step towards developing a vaccine.This reconstruction is widely used, including on the homepage of the CDC. A recent Raleigh Magazine article highlighted this work.

In collaboration with other researchers, Alexander Kabanov’s group in UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy is developing mechanisms to deliver anti-CoV drugs and therapeutic agents directly to the respiratory track. Kabanov’s team uses instruments in the Chapel Hill and Nanofabrication Laboratory to characterize their work.

In addition, researchers at Duke are hard at work in the development of a novel vaccine to fight the coronavirus. The cryo-transmission electron microscope housed at Duke’s Shared Materials Instrumentation Facility (SMIF) is playing a major role in this work. This microscope helps scientists determine the structure of proteins in the virus to help guide vaccine design. To learn more, see the press release here.

Educators Showcase their Nano-Research

RTNN RET 2019 Poster Session
RET Participants share their summer research.

The RTNN hosted 11 educators this summer from Durham, Johnston, Wake, and Chatham Counties. The educators worked in small teams in research labs at NC State, Duke, and UNC as well as a start-up company, Smart Material Solutions. During their time in the program, educators were exposed to and participated in research in cutting-edge laboratories. They also had the opportunity to utilize multiple nanotechnology techniques and tools in RTNN facilities including atomic layer deposition, photolithography, scanning electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy. Projects ranged from the creation and analysis of thin films to the development of new filter materials. Educators also wrote innovative lesson plans linked to their research to bring back to their home institutions. The program culminated in a poster session where teachers shared their summer work and how they will use their experiences in their classroom.

For more information about the RTNN’s RET Site, Atomic Scale Design and Engineering, visit the program website. Information and application instructions for next year’s program will be available in early 2020.

RTNN RET Poster Session

Please join us to celebrate the culmination of this year’s Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program. The RTNN’s RET Site focuses on Atomic Scale Design and Engineering, and the teachers were matched with projects that heavily utilized RTNN nanotechnology facilities. Educators also developed lesson plans and curriculum that incorporated nano. Our eleven RET participants will present the research they conducted in RTNN labs over the summer. Stop by to talk with these amazing educators to learn more about their projects and how they plan to bring this work back to their classrooms. Light snacks and beverages will be provided.

For more information, please contact Maude Cuchiara (maude_cuchiara@ncsu.edu).

RTNN Researchers Develop Nanocrystal Factories for Quantum Dot Manufacturing

NC State researchers are now using a microfluidic system to create quantum dots across the visible light spectrum. The use of microfluidics significantly reduces manufacturing costs and enables real-time process monitoring. Quantum dots can be used in a variety of applications including LED displays and solar energy. For more information, visit the NC State News Release or the original paper in Advanced Functional Materials (details below).

“Facile Room Temperature Anion Exchange Reactions of Inorganic Perovskite Quantum Dots Enabled by a Modular Microfluidic Platform”

Authors: Kameel Abdel-Latif, Robert W. Epps, Corwin B. Kerr, Christopher M. Papa, Felix N. Castellano and Milad Abolhasani, North Carolina State University

Published: March 15, Advanced Functional Materials

Abstract: In an effort to produce the materials of next-generation photoelectronic devices, post-synthesis halide exchange reactions of perovskite quantum dots have been explored to achieve enhanced band-gap tunability. However, comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted halide exchange reactions has been inhibited by their vast relevant parameter space and complex reaction network. In this work, we present a facile room temperature strategy for rapid halide exchange of inorganic perovskite quantum dots. We provide a comprehensive understanding of the halide exchange reactions by isolating reaction kinetics from precursor mixing rates utilizing a modular microfluidic platform, QDExer (Quantum Dot Exchanger). We illustrate the effects of ligand composition and halide salt source on the rate and extent of the halide exchange reactions. Our fluidic platform offers a unique time- and material-efficient approach for studies of solution phase-processed colloidal nanocrystals beyond those studied here and may accelerate the discovery and optimization of next-generation materials for energy technologies.