UW Molecular Engineering Materials Center established through NSF MRSEC award

The University of Washington is home to a new national center of excellence for research, education, and training in materials science. The UW Molecular Engineering Materials Center is funded by a $15.6 million, six-year grant from the National Science Foundation as part of its highly competitive Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) program. The UW center is a partnership among UW faculty from the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Engineering, the Clean Energy Institute (CEI) and the Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute (MolES).

The new center builds on the UW’s record of innovative, collaborative and cross-disciplinary research in the materials sciences, and on a legacy of timely institutional and state investments in materials research at the UW. Initial research will focus on nanocrystals and thin films — toward goals such as developing new materials for applications in clean energy, photonics and quantum computing.

“The primary goal of the UW MRSEC is to empower the next generation of science and engineering leaders,” said center director and UW chemistry professor Daniel Gamelin. “This will involve engaging and supporting students and postdoctoral researchers — and giving them the research and educational experiences, training and cross-disciplinary mentorship that they will need to forge careers on the cutting edge of materials science.”

The center will embark on new research and training endeavors to:

  • Pursue so-called “moonshot” projects, which are research endeavors with potentially high payoff, but are generally beyond the feasibility of smaller research grants awarded to individual professors.
  • Implement new cross-disciplinary training and mentorship programs for doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers, including opportunities to conduct research with the center’s industrial and international partners, and with partners at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and at other National Laboratories run by the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Broaden educational and research opportunities for UW students and researchers, including advanced training on new equipment purchased with center funds.
  • Expand outreach and mentorship efforts to high school students from underrepresented minorities to encourage them to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education as undergraduates.
  • Implement comprehensive outreach efforts to recruit military veterans at the UW and at local community colleges into research and education for STEM careers.
  • Provide support for additional doctoral and postdoctoral researchers.

The center’s inaugural team of 15 faculty come from a variety of disciplines across engineering and the physical sciences. In addition to their home departments in the College of Engineering and the College of Arts & Sciences, 10 are also faculty members in the CEI and 11 in the MolES. This diverse cohort reflects the center’s goal to foster novel and innovative collaborations across traditionally separate disciplines.

The center will make use of existing research and education space across the UW campus, including in the Molecular Engineering & Sciences Building. The CEI and the MolES, both of which are headquartered in that building, will provide access to equipment for center research and training.

The center’s outreach activities — both within the UW and around the region — emphasize education and training for materials science careers. Each year it will host a Research Experiences for Undergraduates program for students from around the country to conduct research with a UW faculty member during the summer. In addition, center scientists will mentor pre-college students from underrepresented minority groups, providing support and resources to help prepare them for college and encourage them to pursue STEM education. In an entirely new endeavor, the center also will set up programs to engage veterans in center research, very few of whom pursue STEM education and careers.

“With this NSF support, the center will bring new opportunities in STEM education to groups that are underrepresented in STEM careers,” said UW professor of materials science & engineering Christine Luscombe, who is the center’s executive director for education and outreach. “Programs like these are expanding access to science.”

The center will focus on two broad research areas, in nanocrystals and thin films.

The first goal, co-led by Gamelin and Luscombe and including eight initial faculty members, is to pursue new approaches to engineer defects in nanocrystals such as semiconductor quantum dots. Though “defects” often have a negative connotation, in materials science they are opportunities to create substances with novel and technologically attractive properties. Precisely targeted defects or impurities, for example, could make a substance cool down — rather than heat up — when hit by a laser. These new materials could also lead to products such as solar-concentrating window films that absorb photons from sunlight and shunt them to photovoltaic cells for energy conversion.

The center’s other focus is the creation of new ultrathin semiconductor materials with unique properties. This team will include seven initial faculty, and is co-led by associate professor of physics and materials science and engineering Xiaodong Xu and assistant professor of physics and electrical engineering Kai-Mei Fu. This research creates thin sheets of materials — often just one layer of atoms thick — and investigates the unique quantum-mechanical properties revealed when these sheets are layered together. These layered materials could form the basis of new ultrathin semiconductors for applications in clean energy, optoelectronics and other applications. In fact, using this approach, one UW team recently discovered a 2-D magnetic material.

“We chose nanocrystals and ultrathin semiconductors because they promise to yield basic, fundamental and impactful discoveries in materials science,” said Gamelin. “And those advances will fuel new innovations and applications in growing industries — from quantum computing to clean energy.”

Gamelin, Xu, and Fu — along with assistant professor of chemistry Brandi Cossairt and electrical engineering professor Scott Dunham — represented the UW team in Washington, D.C., during the final leg of the multi-stage competition for NSF-MRSEC support. Funding for the UW’s Molecular Engineering Materials Center began September 1. The NSF supports 20 MRSECs across the nation, and the UW’s is one of only two on the West Coast.

Story by James Urton, UW News. Additional coverage from GeekWire and the Seattle Times.

Daniel Gamelin wins 2015 Inorganic Chemistry Lectureship Award

GamelinThe American Chemical Society Division of Inorganic Chemistry has announced Professor Daniel Gamelin as the winner of the third Inorganic Chemistry Lectureship Award. Prof. Gamelin was nominated by his peers for his broad, unique, and outstanding sustained contribution to the development of inorganic nanoscience. He will be presented with the award at a symposium held in his honor at the 250th ACS National Meeting in Boston, August 16-20, 2015.

Gamelin’s research combines synthesis, spectroscopy, and ligand field theory or ab initio electronic-structure methods to elucidate key functional properties of inorganic materials. His work has been recognized with numerous awards including the ACS Inorganic Nanoscience Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Senior Fellow of the Zukunftskolleg, and a Scialog Fellow of the Research Corporation.

For more information about Professor Gamelin and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.

Clean Energy Institute Launches

CleanEnergyInstKickoff_sqA new University of Washington institute to develop efficient, cost-effective solar power and better energy storage systems launched December 12 with an event attended by UW President Michael K. Young, Gov. Jay Inslee and researchers, industry experts and policy leaders in renewable energy.

The Clean Energy Institute formed when Washington’s governor and state legislators last summer allocated $6 million to create a research center at the university that will advance solar energy and electrical energy storage capacities. The institute will better connect and boost existing energy research at the UW as well as attract new partnerships and talent, including new faculty members.

The opening of the Clean Energy Institute was covered by KIRO 7 News, the Seattle Times, and UW News. Chemistry Professor David Ginger, Raymon E. and Rosellen M. Lawton Distinguished Scholar in Chemistry, is the Associate Director of the Clean Energy Institute.  Daniel Gamelin, Harry and Catherine Jaynne Boand Endowed Professor of Chemistry, serves on the Faculty Advisory Board.

Daniel Gamelin receives 2012 Inorganic Nanoscience Award

Daniel Gamelin, the Harry and Catherine Jaynne Boand Endowed Professor of Chemistry, received the 2012 Inorganic Nanoscience Award from the American Chemical Society’s Division of Inorganic Chemistry. The award, sponsored by the University of South Carolina NanoCenter, is meant to recognize sustained excellence, dedication, and perseverance in research in the area of inorganic nanoscience. It will be presented at the 2012 Fall ACS meeting in Philadelphia during a half-day symposium honoring Professor Gamelin.


To learn more about Professor Gamelin and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.

Four Faculty Members Elected Fellows of AAAS

In November 2011, the Council of the American Association for the Advancement of  Sciences (AAAS) elected 539 members as Fellows of the AAAS. These individuals will be recognized for their contributions to science and technology at the Fellows Forum to be held on 18 February 2012 during the AAAS Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia. Four faculty members from the UW Department of Chemistry were elected:

Daniel Chiu, A. Bruce Montgomery Professor of Chemistry and Endowed Professor in Analytical Chemistry

Daniel Gamelin, Harry and Catherine Jaynne Boand Endowed Professor of Chemistry

Karen Goldberg, Nicole A. Boand Endowed Professor in Chemistry

Bruce Robinson, Professor of Chemistry

See the full list of 2011 AAAS Fellows.

UW Chemistry Faculty Lead UW to Top Citation Impact in Materials Science

According to a recent report, the University of Washington led the world in impact of publications in materials science research during the period 2001-2011. This analysis, by Thomson-Reuters, focused on 800 papers published at the UW in the field of materials science, which were collectively cited about 24,000 times, achieving a remarkable 30.41 citations per publication. The UW’s performance was closely followed by a number of outstanding private and public institutions. Chemistry Chair Paul Hopkins points out that even in a large university such as the UW, the work of a small number of faculty members can strongly influence the outcome of such analyses. He points out that UW Chemistry Professor Daniel Gamelin, UW Chemistry and Materials Science Professor Alex Jen, UW Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Professor Samson Jenekhe, and former UW Chemistry Professor Younan Xia together published a total of nearly 750 papers  in that time period that were cited over 43,000 times, or 58 citations per paper. Though all of these papers were clearly not included in the Thomson-Reuters analysis, Hopkins believes that that the work of chemists Gamelin, Jen, Jenekhe, and Xia was critical to lifting the UW to the number one spot. Hopkins hopes that prospective graduate students and postdoctoral associates in this field will take notice of the UW’s outstanding performance and strongly consider joining this exciting program at the UW.

Spinning Quantum Dots reported in Nature Nanotechnology

Dr. Stefan Ochsenbein, a postdoc working with Prof. Daniel Gamelin, Harry and Catherine Jaynne Boand Endowed Professor of Chemistry, is lead author on a new paper published in Nature Nanotechnology reporting the first successful coherent impurity spin manipulation within colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals (also known as quantum dots). Spin effects in semiconductor nanostructures have attracted broad interest for potential spin-based information processing technologies, whether in spin-electronics (“spintronics”) or spin-photonics. Colloidal doped semiconductor nanocrystals present interesting possibilities for constructing devices by solution processing or that involve integration with soft materials (e.g., organics), but their spin properties remain relatively untested. For example, the possibility to manipulate spins within colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals coherently, as would be necessary for many proposed applications, had not been demonstrated until these latest experiments.

In this paper, Ochsenbein and Gamelin describe the first observation of coherent spin manipulation in colloidal doped quantum dots. The observation was made by demonstrating microwave-driven Rabi oscillations within the high-spin ground states of Mn2+ impurity ions doped into colloidal ZnO semiconductor nanocrystals. Their electron spin-echo measurements revealed long spin coherence times approaching 1 µs, sufficient for potential qubit applications with optical excitation. The authors also identified previously unobserved hyperfine interactions between Mn2+ electron spins within the quantum dots and proton nuclear spins outside the quantum dots, revealing an important but previously unrecognized contribution to spin decoherence in such quantum dots.

Read the article: “Quantum oscillations in magnetically doped colloidal nanocrystals.” Ochsenbein, S. T.; Gamelin, D. R., Nature Nanotechnology, 2011, 6, 112–115.

To learn more about Prof. Gamelin’s research, visit his faculty webpage and research group website.

Gamelin et al. report light-induced spontaneous magnetization in Science

A paper by Professor Daniel Gamelin, members of his research group, and collaborators at the University of Duisberg-Essen appeared in the August 21, 2009 issue of Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The paper details the spontaneous photoinduced polarization of Mn2+ spins in colloidal doped CdSE nanocrystals. Very large effective internal magnetic fields were observed up to ~50 K and photomagnetic effects are observed all the way up to room temperature.

Citation: “Light-Induced Spontaneous Magnetization in Doped Colloidal Quantum Dots” Rémi Beaulac, Lars Schneider, Paul I. Archer, Gerd Bacher, Daniel R. Gamelin, Science 325 (5943), 973 (21 August 2009) [DOI: 10.1126/science.1174419]

To view the abstract and full text, please visit Science magazine.

UW News press release

Daniel Gamelin promoted to Associate Professor

Assistant Professor Daniel Gamelin was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor, effective September 16, 2006.

Since his arrival at the UW in 1999, Gamelin has received several prominent national awards that recognize rising stars in the sciences, including a 2006 Sloan Research Fellowship, a 2005 Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, a 2004 Cottrell Scholar Award, a 2003 NSF CAREER Award, and a 2003 NSF PECASE.

For more information about Daniel Gamelin and his research, please see his faculty page or his research group website.