SEED Grant Winners 2010

Bruce Brownawell, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, SBU
BNL co-PI James Wishart
BNL collaborator A.J. Francis

"Energy Applications of Ionic Liquids: Increasing Research Capabilities for Addressing Environmental Fate and Risk Assessment Needs"


The proposed Seed Grant would foster new SBU/BNL collaborations and create unique synergies that would better position team members optimize ionic liquid (IL)-based technologies in ways that meet engineering goals, are cost effective, and therefore more sustainable with respect to process performance, energy use, minimization of solvents, and also designed to have minimal environmental impacts of ILs that are released accidentally or during operational use. The proposed seed project couples expertise of the Brownawell lab on the trace level detection and environmental fate of ionic or ionogenic organic compounds to existing research programs at BNL currently tied to applications of ILs which hold great promise for processes related to the production, efficient use, and recycling of energy and energy-related resources. ILs are represented by a vast array of salts typically containing amphiphilic organic cations, paired with inorganic or organic ions. Defined by melting points below 100ºC, the estimated number of ILs is likely in excess of 1 million unique structures that create a diverse portfolio of unique, exciting, and tunable designer solvents in comparison to common solvents in current use.

The proposed activities and research would provide a strong basis for expanding the scope and significance of established multidisciplinary programs at BNL on IL radiation chemistry (Wishart team), task-specific research on the application of ILs in advanced nuclear fuel recycling and treatment (Wishart: DOE sponsored individual PI and multi-institutional research) and research on bioconversion of lignocellulose to ethanol and butanol facilitated by ionic liquid preprocessing (BNL co-PI’s Francis, Wishart and Bell; funded by BNL Laboratory-Directed Research and Development Project). Brownawell’s group brings broad experience in aquatic environmental chemistry, with specific expertise in mass spectrometric detection, aqueous chemistry, and environmental fate of amphiphilic organic cations and anions (surfactants) and their degradates. Brownawell and his students are among a few scientists worldwide that have been working on LC-MS detection and fate of quaternary ammonium compounds, whose structures overlap with, or are structural analogs of, most of the IL cations of current use and research interest. As recently reviewed by Wishart (2009), there are many exciting energy related applications of ILs currently under investigation. This proposal focuses on developing research expertise and collaborations that would allow SBU/BNL to be more responsive to an expected growth in DOE’s interest (and other funding agencies) to invest in IL-based research as options to solve challenging problems associated with both spent nuclear fuel treatment and production of cellulose-based biofuels.


Jian Coa/Nicole Sampson, SOM Division of Cancer Prevention/Chemistry, SBU
BNL co-PI Joanna S. Fowler

"Novel Cancer Homing Peptide for Early Cancer Detection"


Early diagnosis and prevention of metastasis are major stumbling blocks in the “war against cancer”. Although important advances have been made in the management of solid tumors, the complexity of cancer biology continues to defy technologic advances. In diagnosing and monitoring malignant tumors, physicians classically rely on X-rays to image a space-occupying lesion. However, these images are often late indicators of tumors. Therefore, there is a pressing need for an effective tool for early diagnosis of cancer.

The goal of this "seed grant" is to develop a specific tumor-homing peptide for imaging early cancers and for monitoring cancer progression. Based on our studies of the structure-function relationship of MT1-MMP, a membrane anchored matrix metalloproteinase (MMP), we designed and synthesized peptides which bind to breast cancer cells expressing endogenous or exogenous MT1-MMP. Since MT1-MMP has been demonstrated to be upregulated in invasive human breast cancers even in the early stage, we hypothesize that peptides, which bind to MT1-MMP-expressing cancer cells, will facilitate non-invasive imaging of MT1-MMP expressing tumors in a living subject. We will test our working hypothesis by employing MT1-MMP binding-peptides labeled with the appropriate imaging moiety to identify cancer cells in xenograft tumor models using both optical (fluorescence) and nuclear imaging (PET) approaches. The rationale for this aim is that the development of a molecule-based imaging tool will allow us to detect early cancers with invasive capability. The success of this “seed grant” proposal will facilitate our future NIH grant application aimed at probe optimization and human clinical trials for early diagnosis of cancers and monitoring prognosis of cancers.

This approach is innovative because it utilizes novel peptides specific for MT1-MMP to identify cancer cells by imaging techniques. The proposed research will have significant future implications because development of imaging tools for diagnosis of early/aggressive cancers will significantly improve the outcome of patients with cancer and facilitate translation from bench to bedside. It will also take advantage of the developing Joint Stony Brook University / Brookhaven National Laboratory Bioimaging Institute.


Matthew Dawber, Physics and Astronomy, SBU
BNL co-PI Dong Su

"Domains and Interfacial Structure in Ferroelectric Superlattices through Electron Microscopy"


Ferroelectric materials posses a spontaneous polarization which can be switched from one direction to another by an applied electric field. This class of materials also finds use in a myriad of technological applications,with tremendous growth potential in the future as we increasingly turn to smart materials to meet technological challenges. Two particularly relevant applications given contemporary challenges are the possibilities of using ferroelectrics to produce energy, either by use of their piezoelectric properties, or by using their polarization to separate photogenerated electron hole pairs. In this project, we will build up artificially layered ferroelectric superlattices by depositing layers of perovskite oxide materials on top of each other with atomic precision in the lab of Matt Dawber, an assistant professor at Stony Brook. Through our advanced deposition techniques we can produce new materials which have characteristic properties defined by the structure we have imposed on them. We will then perform advanced Transmission Electron Microscopy at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), where Dong Su is a tenure track material scientist. Both the PI and co-PI have worked extensively with ferroelectric materials in the past, but are both in the early stage of their efforts on Long Island and this seed grant will serve as the launch pad for a long term program of collaborative research.


Dale Deutsch, Biochemistry and Cell Biology, SBU
BNL co-PI Huilin Li
SBU collaborator Iwao Ojima

"Design of Drugs to Target Fatty Acid Binding Proteins (FABPs)"


The Principle Investigator from Stony Brook University, Dale Deutsch has recently discovered a novel drug target called the fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs). The action of drugs at this target (inhibitors) would raise the levels of the endogenous “marijuana” like compounds called endocannabinoids leading to remedies for pain, stress and withdrawal from drug abuse. This FABP drug target was the basis of a patent submitted by the technology transfer office at Stony Brook University. The PI here requested seed money to perform pilot experiments to identify inhibitors using techniques of biochemistry (Dale Deutsch in Biochemistry at Stony Brook), of chemistry (Dr. Iwao Ojima in Chemistry at Stony Brook) and X-ray crystallography (Huilin Li at Brookhaven National Laboratories). The requested funding is to initiate new collaborations for work that is not yet funded by any granting agency. This seed money will be used to generate enough data on potential drugs for the FABP targets to lead to a fullfledged NIH grant between the collaborators at Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratories with the possibility of a subsequent Program Project between Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory.


James Glimm, Applied Mathematics and Statistics, SBU
BNL co-PI James Davenport
SBU collaborators Roman Samulyak and Stanley Wong

"Large Scale Simulations of Quantum Dot Photovoltaic Cells"


The purpose of this proposal is to start a collaboration among the two PIs and two collaborators to investigate the design of photovoltiac solar cells based on quantum dots of semi-conducting materials. The study will be numerical. It will be based on a new DFT code under development at BNL, which has linear scaling. The simulations will be conducted on the NYBlue supercomputer at SB/BNL. The simulations will be compared to the results of an experimental program led by collaborator Stanley Wong, at Stony Brook and at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials at BNL.

The focus of the research will be two-fold. First to participate in the creation of a new, linear scaling DFT simulation code, and secondly to use this code in the modeling of quantum dots, with up to 1000 or perhaps 10,000 atoms. With such problem sizes, simulation of a complete dot will be feasible. On this basis, issues such as impurities and shape effects on the band gap can be explored. These issues are inconvenient to address in a simulation code limited to 100 or so atoms.

It is hoped that this collaboration will provide the basis of a new submission under the leadership of one of us (SSW) to the NSF. We also hope that this work will lead to other funding opportunities, and that the new DFT code will be of interest to other groups at BNL and elsewhere.


Alexander Orlov, Materials Science and Engineering, SBU
BNL co-PI Michael White
SBU collaborators Clive Clayton, Gary Halada and Peter Khalifah
BNL collaborator Weiqiang Han

"Large Scale Simulations of Quantum Dot Photovoltaic Cells"


The efficient conversion of CO2, a greenhouse gas, into hydrocarbons and oxygenates has an enormous potential to address environmental issues and sustainable energy challenges. The methods of reducing carbon dioxide can be classified as: electrochemical, photochemical, photocatalytic and photoelectrochemical. Photocatalytic method is one of the most promising strategies to use for CO2 reduction. It has a potential to convert CO2 into hydrocarbons and alcohols, which can be recycled either for energy production or for chemical synthesis. If successful, this approach can significantly impact energy and environmental areas by using green routes for producing valuable chemicals. It will reduce CO2 emissions by utilizing sustainable sources of energy, such as sunlight. Given the importance of the proposed topic, the results arising from this project are expected to make a significant and lasting impact on sustainable energy generation. This proposal is relevant to Stony Brook and BNL missions of developing the innovative solutions to address the Nation's energy needs in a sustainable manner without harming the environment.


Vladimir Samuilov, Materials Science and Engineering, SBU
BNL co-PI Kotaro Sasaki
SBU collaborator Gary Halada
BNL collaborator Slowa Solovyov
University of Albany collaborator Manisha Rane-Fondacaro

"Highly-Efficient Low-Loss Supercapacitors For High-Density In-Grid Energy Storage"


The seed grant funds will establish a long-term collaboration between the Materials Science and Engineering Department at SBU and Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science and Chemistry Departments of BNL. The proposed work will concentrate on development of a low-loss short term storage supercapacitor-type device. The development effort will utilize extensive experience at the Materials Science and Engineering Department at SBU in synthesis and characterization of thick carbon nanotube films/electrodes with diamond-like coating with well controlled nano-morphology. The project will use advanced characterization facilities at BNL Center for Functional Nanomaterials, National Synchrotron Light Source at BNL and at the Materials Science and Engineering Department SBU. The project will well position BNL- SBU team to respond to the future calls in the energy storage and the electrical grid development.


Donald Weidner, Mineral Physics Institute, SBU
BNL co-PI Toshifumi Sugama

"Development of an in situ reaction chamber to study carbonation mechanism and kinetics of minerals in supercritical carbon dioxide"


To meet the increased energy needs of the United States of America development of new and clean energy sources paramount. Geothermal energy is one of the new energy sources that have a large potential to provide energy on a commercial scale. The current limitation of geothermal energy could potentially overcome by using supercritical CO2 instead of water for heat extraction. A major additional advantage of the use of supercritical CO2 for heat extraction is that such a system will combine the extraction of geothermal energy with the storage of the greenhouse gas CO2 in geological formations at the same time. However, the processes in supercritical CO2/water/rock or supercritical CO2/vapor/rock systems at pressure and temperature conditions relevant to geothermal applications and CO2 sequestration are not well understood.

The funding will be used to design and build a suitable environmental cell for in situ investigations of CO2/water/rock or supercritical CO2/vapor/rock systems using synchrotron radiation, and install the cell first at suitable beamlines at NSLS and potentially later at NSLS-II.


Stanislaus Wong, Chemistry, SBU
BNL co-PI Chi-Chang Kao
Columbia University collaborator Ismail Noyan

"Synthesis and Characterization of Bismuth Ferrite Nanostructures for Modeling of Nanodiffraction"


The goal of this work is to manufacture a series of well-defined single multiferroic bismuth ferrite spherical nanostructures (in the neighborhood of 15 to 350 nm) with known defect profiles. In addition to the intrinsic interest in multiferroic bismuth ferrite spherical nanostructures for device applications, the project will also provide a series of test particles for proof-of-concept experiments for advanced nanodiffraction beamlines, in particular HXN at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS)-II. Our effort will couple with existing investments at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN), Computer Science Division (ID), and NSLS-II, and encompass researchers from Columbia University and BNL, who are experts in electromagnetic radiation transport, image reconstruction, inverse problem analysis, diffraction physics, and computational physics.


Lei Zuo, Jon Longtin, Sanjay Sampth, Baosheng Li, SBU

"Integrated Design and Manufacturing of Cost-Effective & Industrial-Scalable TEG for Vehicle Application"


Transportation accounts for over 70 of oil consumption in the United States, yet only 30-35% of the fuel energy is converted into mechanical energy in a typical vehicle, and the rest is lost as waste heat. Significant progress on thermoelectronics (TE) has been made in the past fifteen years, and it has recently been demonstrated that a 5-10% improvement in fuel efficiency can be obtained by converting waste heat from the vehicle exhaust system to electricity using state-of-the-art thermoelectric materials. The exhaust system, however, presents unique challenges for integrating thermoelectric (TE) devices.

Recently a team of SBU faculty (Lei Zuo, Jon Longtin, Sanjay Sampth, Baosheng Li) and a BNL scientist (Qiang Li) won a three-year thermoelectric project from NSF and DOE to develop an integrated solution to fabricate functional TE materials and structures onto exhaust pipes in a rapid, economical, and industrially scalable manner. The proposed approach is based on the recent progress in non-equilibrium material synthesis using rapid quenching, thermal spray of thick films, laser micromachining for feature patterning, and integrated thermal and mechanical design. Unlike traditional module-based design, the central concepts of this project focus on (1) fabricating TE structures directly onto cylindrical exhaust pipes, which will eliminate the tedious process of module assembles, soldering or mechanically attaching, and will result in intrinsically strong interface adhesion between material layers, and (2) to enable high figure-of-merit TE devices that can be economically manufactured from abundant materials using industrial scalable manufacturing processes.


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