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IRG-1: Electrostatic Control of Materials

The vision of IRG-1, Electrostatic Control of Materials, is to use a set of new techniques for electrostatic manipulation of charge carrier density at material surfaces as a universal platform to probe and control electronic properties in novel materials.

Recently developed methods based on ionic liquids, ionic gels, and solid electrolyte structures are being used to generate unprecedented charge densities in a variety of materials, up to significant fractions of an electron per unit cell, enabling dramatic property modification. Opportunities include reversible control of magnetic order and properties, fine-tuning of insulator-metal and superconducting transitions, novel electronic and opto-electronic device concepts, discovery of new electronic and magnetic phases, and determination of the limits of transport in new materials. The IRG is exploring three classes of materials of exceptional current interest as test cases: (i) organic conductors; (ii) metal chalcogenides; and (iii) complex oxides.


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The IRG-1 senior investigators and their primary areas of expertise are:

Chris Leighton (CEMS) Leader: Electronic and magnetic properties, thin film and crystal growth, neutron and x-ray scattering, transport
Turan Birol (CEMS): First principles electronic structure of correlated electron materials
Rafael Fernandes (PHYS): Modeling of magnetism and transport
C. Daniel Frisbie (CEMS): Organic electronics, electrolyte gating
Allen Goldman (PHYS): Superconductivity, low T transport, ionic liquid gating
Martin Greven (PHYS): Superconductivity, complex oxides, scattering
Bharat Jalan (CEMS): Complex oxide heterostructures, oxide MBE
Steven Koester (ECE): Electronic devices, low dimensional structures

IRG-1 researchers:

Nikolaos Biniskos: Postdoctoral Researcher — Greven
Vipul Chaturvedi: Graduate Student — Leighton
Ezra Day-Roberts: Graduate Student — Fernandes
Sajna Hameed: Graduate Student — Greven
Shutong Li: Graduate Student — Birol
Rui Ma: Graduate Student — Koester
Arpita Paul: Postdoctoral Researcher — Birol
Damjan Pelc: Postdoctoral Researcher — Greven
Will Postiglione: Graduate Student — Leighton
Anil Rajapitamahuni: Postdoctoral Researcher — Jalan
Helin Wang: Graduate Student — Leighton
Zuoti Xie: Researcher — Frisbie
Jin Yue: Graduate Student — Jalan
Hwanhui Yun: Graduate Student — Mkhoyan

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IRG-2: Sustainable Nanocrystal Materials

The focus of IRG-2, Sustainable Nanocrystal Materials, is the design, synthesis, processing, and thin film properties of environmentally benign nanocrystal-based electronic and optoelectronic materials.

The field is currently constrained by the use of toxic (e.g., Pb, Cd) and/or scarce (e.g., In, Te) elements, with serious environmental, health, and economic concerns. IRG-2 will overcome these barriers by discovering and developing nanocrystal-based electronic thin films made from nontoxic, abundant and sustainable materials using scalable, low-temperature processes. The IRG's research will pursue three closely linked, vertically integrated thrusts: (i) nanocrystal synthesis and characterization; (ii) quantum dot films and devices; and (iii) microcrystalline films and devices. This research aims to reinvent the scope of active materials for NC-based electronics and optoelectronics, which will ultimately enable energy efficient emissive or photovoltaic devices with sustainable materials choices.


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The IRG-2 senior investigators and their primary areas of expertise are:

Uwe Kortshagen (ME) Leader: Nanocrystal synthesis, functionalization and doping
Lorraine Francis (CEMS): Coating science and technology; mechanical properties
Christy Haynes (CHEM): Nanoparticle environmental and health impact
Chris Hogan (ME): Aerosol technology; flame synthesis of nanocrystals
Andre Mkhoyan (CEMS): Electron microscopy and spectroscopy
Boris Shklovskii (PHYS): Charge transport physics and theory
Xiaojia Wang (ME): Structure-Thermal Property Correlation of Complex Oxide Thin Films and Heterostructures

IRG-2 researchers:

Xiaoshuang Chen: Graduate Student — Hogan
Supriya Ghosh: Graduate Student — Mkhoyan
Jiayi He: Graduate Student — Haynes
Jacob Held: Graduate Student — Mkhoyan
Yi Huang: Graduate Student — Shklovskii
Yensil Park: Postdoctoral Researcher — Hogan
Zachary Robinson: Graduate Student — Kortshagen
Qiaomiao Tu: Graduate Student — Kortshagen
Xiaoxiao Yao: Graduate Student — Haynes
Chengjian Zhang: Graduate Student — Francis
Yingying Zhang: Graduate Student — Wang

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IRG-3: Hierarchical Multifunctional Macromolecular Materials

The vision of IRG-3, Hierarchical Multifunctional Macromolecular Materials, is to develop a multiple interaction approach to polymer materials design that enables multifunctional applications by decoupling the optimization of two or more desired attributes.

The IRG will explore this paradigm in three integrated thrusts that aim to: (i) control aqueous rheology and gelation with polymers containing cellulose ether blocks; (ii) control the structure and properties of block-polymer-based "amphiplexes", assemblies of polyanions with cationic copolymer micelles; and (iii) design and prepare novel multiblock polymers featuring independent control of ordered-state symmetries and mechanical properties. Intellectual advances by the IRG will impact a wide range of societally important technologies, including batteries, composites, food, fuel cells, lithography, oil and gas recovery, personal care, pharmaceutical formulations, textiles, water purification and treatment.


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The IRG-3 senior investigators and their primary areas of expertise are:

Theresa Reineke (CHEM) Leader: Polymer synthesis, assembly, and characterization
Frank Bates (CEMS): Polymer synthesis, structure and properties, scattering
Kevin Dorfman (CEMS): Polymer simulations and nanofluidics
Cari Dutcher (ME): Rheology, colloids, polyelectrolytes
Timothy Lodge (CEMS/CHEM): Self-assembly of polymer solutions and melts
David Morse (CEMS): Polymer theory and simulation
Ilja Siepmann (CHEM): Molecular simulation, force field development

IRG-3 researchers:

McKenzie Coughlin: Graduate Student — Bates, Lodge
Piril Ertem: Postdoctoral Researcher — Bates, Lodge
Lucy Liberman: Postdoctoral Researcher — Bates, Lodge
Athena Metaxas: Graduate Student — Dutcher
Benjamin Micklavzina : Postdoctoral Researcher — Dutcher
Cristiam Santa Chalarca: Postdoctoral Researcher — Reineke
Vaidyanthan Sethuraman: Postdoctoral Researcher — Dorfman
Zhengyuan Shen: Graduate Student — Reineke
Mridul Yadav: Graduate Student — Bates, Morse

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Seed Projects: Foster Innovation and Promote MRSEC Growth

The Center operates an ambitious Seed program designed to foster innovation and promote Center growth and evolution.

Awards are made to individual faculty members or small clusters in support of high risk projects or research in emerging areas.

The current seed investigators and projects are:

Michelle Calabrese (CEMS):
Controlling polymer self-assembly with transient magnetic fields — description

Boya Xiong (CEGE):
Reinventing antimicrobial surfaces: Host defense peptide embedded materials — description coming soon

Rafael Fernandes (PHYS), Turan Birol (CEMS), Fiona Burnell (PHYS), Vlad S. Pribiag (PHYS), Ke Wang (PHYS):
iSuperSEED: Bridging the 2D and 3D Worlds with Transition Metal Dichalcogenides — description

Stefano Gonella (CEGE), Ellad Tadmor (AEM), David Flannigan (CEMS):
Understanding Nanoscale Waves in 2D Heterostructures: A Multi-scale Approach Enabled by Mechanical Metamaterial Proxies — description

Jiarong Hong (ME):
Develop Low Energy Electron Point Source Digital Inline Holographic Microscopy (LEEPSDIHM) for in Situ Nanoparticle Characterization — description

seed project archive

Current Seed researchers:

Moon-ki Choi: Graduate Student — Ellad Tadmor
Konstantin Davydov: Graduate Student — Wang, Ke
Brett Heischmidt: Graduate Student — Pribiag
Christopher Neal: Graduate Student — Calabrese
Amartyajyoti Saha: Graduate Student — Birol
Daniel Shaffer: Graduate Student — Burnell and Fernandes

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Funded by the National Science Foundation through the University of Minnesota MRSEC under Award Number DMR-1420013

Contact Information


435 Amundson Hall, 421 Washington Ave. SE, Minneapolis, MN, 55455

P: 612-626-0713 | F: 612-626-7805