Discovery of New Alloys by Bulk Combinatorial Synthesis

The Critical Materials Institute (CMI) is developing new capabilities in the search for new materials or substitutions in existing compounds to reduce or eliminate rare earth elements in energy critical technologies.  We are developing a new method to produce large number of new compounds rapidly using advanced laser processing. While there has been a considerable effort in combinatorial synthesis, there are few efforts in bulk combinatorial synthesis especially for metals. 

Critical Materials

Validated phase diagrams are the bedrock of alloy design and optimization.

Exploration of multi-block polymer morphologies using high performance computing

Modern material design increasingly relies on controlling small scale morphologies. Multi-block polymers are well suited to this as they can provide highly tunable structures with applications ranging from structural materials to specialized uses such as fuel cells and separation membranes.

Nanostructured photocatalysts for green chemistry and sustainable catalysis

Nanoscale materials with precise structure and composition offer unique opportunities in the development of catalytic processes for green and sustainable chemistry. Following a long tradition of successful undergraduate researchers and summer interns in our lab, SULI students in the Vela group will apply principles of nanomaterial synthesis, green chemistry, and catalysis to investigate photochemical transformations of renewable and alternative energy sources, with an emphasis on carbon dioxide (CO2) and biomass-relevant substrates.

Development of Heterogeneous Metallic Nanoparticles as Robust, Light-Weight Hydrogen Storage Materials

A significant challenge for the widespread use of hydrogen as a practical alternative to fossil fuel is the successful development of safe and efficient storage materials for H2. One of the promising candidates, light metal hydride MgH2, suffers from the slow kinetics and high temperatures required for H2 absorption/desorption.

Reduction of Metal Oxides by Microwave Heating of Multi-walled Carbon Nanotubes

Microwave heating of a metal oxide in the presence of multi-walled carbon nanotubes may result in the reduction of the metal oxide to the neutral metal containing a network of carbon nanotubes. This metal matrix composite may have properties with increased the metal hardness, reductions in density, and enhanced electrical and thermal conductivity. 

Nanocasting for a new generation of smart nanodevices

Project is aimed to prepare a new generation of composite nanostructured materials. These nanomaterials will be designed to eventually act as the basis for smart devices that can find applications in catalysis, CO2 capture and conversion, energy storage and transduction, and biomedical fields. Team members will work in the synthesis and characterization of mesoporous materials. They will use a series of analytical methods including powder x-ray diffraction, gas physi- and chimisorption, electron microscopy and energy dispersive x-ray microscopy.

Nanocasting for a new generation of smart nanodevices

Project is aimed to prepare a new generation of composite nanostructured materials. These nanomaterials will be designed to eventually act as the basis for smart devices that can find applications in catalysis, CO2 capture and conversion, energy storage and transduction, and biomedical fields. Team members will work in the synthesis and characterization of mesoporous materials. They will use a series of analytical methods including powder x-ray diffraction, gas physi- and chimisorption, electron microscopy and energy dispersive x-ray microscopy.

Grazing Incidence X-ray Diffraction and Spectroscopy from Organic Films

The student will participate in hands on X-ray reflectivity and fluorescence experiments from bio-membranes and thin films to determine their structure-function relationship on molecular length scales and overall morphologies.  The duties  of the student will include sample preparations, X-ray scattering experiments,   data analysis, literature search, and writing a summary.  The specific projects will involve the induction of nano-crystal growth at  membrane templates, similar to biomineralization processes in living organisms, and characterization of polymer-

The annual Ames Laboratory/Iowa State University Regional Science Bowl competitions will be taking place in January and February.This year marks the 24th year for the high school event and the 11th for the middle school competition.

On Jan. 25, high school students from 40 schools across Iowa will compete on campus at Hoover, Howe and Pearson Halls. School competing are: Albia, Ames, Benton, Bettendorf, Boone, Boyer Valley, Centennial (Ankeny), Central Academy (Des Moines), Central Clinton (DeWitt), Chariton, Clear Creek Amana, Davenport North, Dowling Catholic, Dubuque Senior, East Union (Afton), Fort Dodge, Grinnell-Newburg, Hempstead (Dubuque), Home Schools of Eastern Iowa, IKM Manning,    Indianola, Johnston, Kennedy (Cedar Rapids), LeMars, Lynnville-Sully, Madrid, Melcher-Dallas, Mid Prairie (Wellman), Mt. Pleasant, Ogden, Pella, Pleasant Valley (Bettendorf), Regina (Iowa City), South Hamilton (Jewell), Southwest Webster Grand Comm (Burnside), St. Albert (Council Bluffs), Urbandale, Valley (West Des Moines), Wahlert (Dubuque), and Williamsburg.

The middle school event this year will be one day only, Feb. 22, with the elimination of the model car race. The academic competition, which will be held in Hach Hall, TASF, Spedding Auditorium and Gilman Hall, will feature an expanded field of 24 schools. Schools competing are: Adel DeSoto Minburn, Ames, Benton (Van Horne), Boone, Central Lee (Donnellson), Chariton, Fort Dodge, Home Schools (Walker), Lynnville-Sully, Madrid, Mediapolis, Nishnabotna (Hamburg),  North Winneshiek (Decorah), Pella Christian, Sacred Heart (West Des Moines), Southeast Webster Grand (Burnside), St. Albert (Council Bluffs), Stanton, Starmont (Arlington), Stilwell (West Des Moines), Union (Dysart), West Fork (Rockwell), West Hancock (Kanawha), and Williamsburg.

The winning team from each event will represent the Iowa Regional at the Department of Energy's National Science Bowl, April 24-28 in Washington, D.C.

For more information on Science Bowl, click here.