PART 1:   NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY Research in discovering new solid state materials addresses the grand challenge of moving towards rational materials synthesis that transforms our understanding of materials properties and advances new technologies. This project, which is funded by the Solid State and Materials Chemistry Program in the Division of Materials Research, focuses on discovering and characterizing new types of metal chalcogenide compounds using molten metal salts as solvents. Chalcogenides are used in a broad variety of scientific investigations and technologies. This project studies how important physical properties change as a function of composition and crystal structure of the metal chalcogenide. This leads to exciting new materials, which are expected to spark new applications or enhance the effectiveness of existing technological applications. Thereby new materials impact both the physical sciences as well as economic growth. Furthermore, this project contributes significantly to the training and teaching of graduate students in the field of solid state and materials chemistry and helps to create a future workforce that understands the importance of new materials as drivers for new phenomena and technologies. The project provides important opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to learn research investigative skills that are needed for successful contemporary scientific research, which in turn has a positive impact on our national competitiveness.

PART 2:   TECHNICAL SUMMARY This project, funded by the Solid State and Materials Chemistry Program in the Division of Materials Research, investigates the class of metal chalcogenides which occupies a vital place in chemistry, physics and materials science. These compounds exhibit remarkably diverse compositions, structures and physical properties which are at the core of many fundamental studies. Specifically, the project investigates (a) study the synthesis of Li containing chalcogenide phases to meet the challenge of incorporating this light alkali ion in a variety of structures; (b) the synthesis of complex alkali chalcophosphates with low-valent phosphorus to observe new bonding motifs and (c) the study of how metal chalcogenide ion-exchangers bind heavy metals. The fields of science and technology impacted by chalcogenides are important and continue to expand. Examples include nonlinear optics, energy conversion, information storage, batteries, topological insulators, catalysis, and superconductivity. The project focuses on ternary and quaternary chalcogenides because they promise very attractive or even unique chemical and physical properties. The main objective of this program is to further develop the ability to control chemical reaction systems by developing the general synthetic strategies that lead to new chalcogenide materials. New horizons in chalcogenide chemistry that pose great challenges are being explored.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
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Birgit Schwenzer
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Northwestern University at Chicago
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