Chemist Leads Pioneering Nanosurgery EffortsCarnegie Mellon University chemist Rongchao Jin led a team that performed the first site-specific surgery on nanoparticles. The pioneering technique developed by graduate student Qi Li will help nanochemists create precisely tailored nanoparticles with enhanced functional properties. Using a gold nanoparticle composed of 23 atoms, Jin’s team was able to remove ligands from its surface in a procedure that increased the nanoparticle photoluminescence by roughly tenfold. The work, done in collaboration with researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, was published in May 2017 in the journal Science Advances.
Why Some Metals Won’t MixAt the microscopic level, solid objects are made up of a mosaic of crystals, called grains. Gaps between these grains can cause a material to become less durable. Alloys of nickel and bismuth are known to be brittle, a problem as nickel is used to manufacture things like airplane wings and bismuth is often used in solder. Physics Professor Mike Widom and his collaborators found that, at the grain boundaries, nickel and bismuth realigned to form superstructures resulting in weakly connected bonds between the two elements, causing the material to be weak. Widom and graduate student Qin Gao calculated the energies at the grain boundaries. This information, which was published in the journal Science, could help inform the development of stronger materials.
DSF Gives MCS $4M for Foundational Research Block Grant ProgramThe DSF Charitable Foundation has given $4 million to the Mellon College of Science to support an innovative block grant program that encourages researchers to address fundamental scientific questions through the lenses of diverse disciplines. The projects funded by the program will lead to new avenues of scientific research and groundbreaking discoveries in the life sciences and biomedicine.
The centerpiece of the program is a $1 million moonshot grant that will bring together scientists from different fields to collaborate on high-risk, high-reward activities. Other grants fund early-career and individual investigator research and transdisciplinary workshops. The first six grants were awarded this spring.