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SEED Grants 2006

Theory of Nanowires and Nanorods

Phillip Allen
Department of Physics and Astronomy, SBU

James Muckerman
Department of Chemistry, BNL

James Davenport
Computational Science Center, BNL

Current Electronic Structure Theory is constrained by the technical difficulties of the quantum many electron problem. The “density-functional” theory solves many of these difficulties by creative use of “single electron” versions of the quantum theory. The stumbling block is the size of the system, measured by the number N of atoms. DFT can be applied to systems N~100, or, with very big computers, N~1000. However, most important nanoscale materials have N~10,000 or more. This team proposes to solve the large N problem by exploiting the chiral symmetry of nanorods, nanowires, and nanotubes. These are special cases of nanosystems where the growth is one-dimensional: a template of atoms with constant cross-sectional area may grow as a long rod when the atoms on the cylindrical periphery give a low surface energy. The one-dimensional morphology permits a new kind of simplification which has not been much exploited.

Cryo-Imaging of Adenovirus Assembly Intermedicates

Patrick Hearing
Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, SBU

Huilin Li
Biology Department, BNL

Philomena Ostapchuk
Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, SBU

The subject of this proposal is to probe the molecular mechanism of virus assembly of the human Adenovirus (Ad). There are more than 50 different isolates of human Ad that cause a range of diseases including the common cold (pharyngitis), more acute respiratory illness (pneumonia and acute respiratory disease, ARD), pink eye (conjunctivitis), and GI tract infections (gastroenteritis). Ad is a leading cause of diarrhea worldwide. Ad also is a promising agent for human gene therapy to treat inherited and acquired diseases such as hemophilia and cancer, and for use as a vaccine-based vector.

Semiconductor Scintillator: Detector of High-Energy Radiation

Serge Luryi
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, SBU

Alexander Kastalsky
Senor CAT, SBU

Aleksey Bolotnikov
Nonproliferation and National Security Department, BNL

Zheng Li
Instrumentation Division, BNL

Paul O'Connor
Instrumentation Division, BNL

This team proposes a new scintillation-type detector in which high-energy radiation produces electron-hole pairs in a direct-gap semiconductor material that subsequently recombine producing infrared light to be registered by a photo-detector. The key goal is to make the semiconductor essentially transparent to its own infrared light, so that photons generated deep inside the semiconductor could reach its surface without tangible attenuation. This holds a major promise for homeland security applications, where the key issue is positive identification of the radiation source and elimination of false alarms.

3D Nanostructures as Catalysts for Solar Fuel Production

Andreas Mayr
Department of Chemistry, SBU

Etsuko Fujita
Chemistry Department, BNL

The long-term goal of this collaboration is the development of a highly efficient and versatile catalyst system for solar fuel production. The effort will initially focus on the photochemical reduction of carbon dioxide, but will also be aimed at other energy-related types of small molecule activation such as the reduction of carbon monoxide and dinitrogen. (The reduction of carbon monoxide is closely associated with the overall process of carbon dioxide reduction, since carbon monoxide is one of the potential products of carbon dioxide reduction).

Nanopowder Synthesis by Plasma Chemical Reactions with Initial Applications in Alloyed MGB2 Superconductors

Sanjay Sampath
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, SBU

Lance Cooley
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, SBU

James Marzik
Specialty Materials, BNL

The aim of this seed grant is to develop an understanding of the thermodynamics and kinetics of boride nanopowder synthesis. Through existing and proposed linkages, this program will also have an immediate impact on national superconductor development programs. Using this program as a model, the team then hopes to seek funding for the construction of a new, versatile reactor and a concomitant research program to explore a variety of nanopowder compounds made by plasma chemical reactions. Novel properties of nanopowders as quantum dots, composite electronic systems, catalysts, covalent metals, and other behavior motivates such a program, because they benefit solar energy, thermoelectrics, high-temperature materials, and other basic needs for national energy security.

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