This project will funds studies in three contemporary areas that lay the foundation for a comprehensive collaboration between The Florida A & M University (FAMU) and The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL), an NSF facility. Faculty at FAMU, an HBCU that is a predominantly teaching university, will collaborate with staff from the NHMFL to study new catalysts, new techniques for preparing hard/soft magnetic materials and nanoscale protein assemblies. This collaborative activity will provide important new research opportunities to faculty and students at FAMU and will seed a long term relationship between the institutions. The proposed activities will strengthen the activities in the existing doctoral program in Physics and will support the development of a doctoral program in Chemistry. The multidisciplinary program that will develop will significantly impact and enhance research in physics, chemistry, biology and engineering, with a direct link to the NHMFL and will strengthen the nations STEM workforce.

Technical Abstract

The proposed studies will seed activity in three areas of current interest. These are:

1) Catalyst and catalyst assemblies based on magnetic molecules. This work seeks to establish the fundamental mechanisms by which high-valent species of Earth-abundant metals achieve water splitting. It will also provide information of critical importance for addressing the correlation between the nature/structure of high-valent intermediates and their catalytic activity towards water oxidation. These studies have potential implications for the development of sustainable energy systems that take advantage of catalytic water splitting.

2) Studies of meso-scale spring-exchange magnets assembled in polymer superstructures. This work will explore new synthetic methods to assemble hard/soft composite magnets via bottom up formation of mesoscale structures to deliberately form controlled magnetic domains by utilization of nano-processing. The proposed research will result in novel materials that will have potential to substantially decrease our dependence on the imported rare-earth metals.

3) Studies of nanoscale protein and peptide assemblies. These studies will result in a fundamental understanding of the different mechanisms of self-assembly in peptides and how these mechanisms give rise to a resultant macroscopic property (elastic modulus, yield stress). This will allow control over the final property and be able to tune peptide properties towards a particular application (for use as cell and tissue scaffolds). These studies will also result in novel NMR techniques that characterize the self-assembly mechanisms which can be used to investigate aggregation and self-assembly in a wide variety of other materials.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
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Germano Iannacchione
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Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
United States
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