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Berkeley Lab Scientists Win Four DOE Early Career Research Grants from Nanotechnology to Energy

Published on January 15, 2010 at 4:15 PM

Investigations into the mysteries of the universe and matter at the most fundamental levels, and ground-breaking research into the application of nanomaterials to energy production, storage and conservation were recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy in announcing the first recipients of its Early Career Research Program.

Four scientists with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) - Christian Bauer, Delia Milleron, Feng Wang and Feng Yuan - were among the 69 recipients from across the nation who will divide up to $85 million in five-year research grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"This investment reflects the Obama Administration's strong commitment to creating jobs and new industries through scientific innovation," said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu who announced the winners. "Strong support of scientists in the early career years is crucial to renewing America's scientific workforce and ensuring U.S. leadership in discovery and innovation for many years to come."

Said Berkeley Lab director Paul Alivisatos, a strong proponent of this program, "I am delighted that DOE has recognized these four young Berkeley Lab scientists with Early Career Research awards. Each of their proposed projects had my full support for submission because each represents outstanding science that complements the strategic direction of this laboratory and supports the DOE Office of Science mission."

  • Christian Bauer - Bauer is a physicist with Berkeley Lab's Physics Division whose project is titled, "GENEVA: An NLO event generator for the Large Hadron Collider." His focus for the Early Career Research grant is on the complex particle collisions that will take place at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest and highest energy particle collider. Drawing on the vast computational resources of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), which is located at Berkeley Lab, Bauer wants to develop a "full-fledged event generator" that will help experimenters discover and analyze new particles and forces at the LHC.
  • Delia Milleron - Milleron directs the Inorganic Nanostructures Facility for Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry, one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers. Her project is titled, "Inorganic nanocomposite electrodes for electrochemical energy storage and energy conservation." The goal is to develop solution-processed inorganic nanocomposite materials for efficient energy conversion, storage, and conservation devices, such as battery electrodes and electrochromic window coatings. "Inorganic nanocomposites have recently emerged as a means of controlling the properties of electronic materials through morphology, as well as composition to give rise to combinations of properties not generally found in homogeneous, singlephase materials," Milleron says. "I have recently demonstrated a new method for preparing inorganic nanocomposites from solution-processible nanoparticle and molecular building blocks in a combinatorial manner."
  • Feng Wang - Wang holds joint appointments with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division and the University of California, Berkeley Physics Department, where he leads the Ultrafast Nano-Optics group. His project is titled, "Control Graphene Electronic Structure for Energy Technology." Graphene is a one-atom thick sheet of carbon that displays extraordinary electrical and mechanical properties, and is widely touted for its potential use in energy technologies. Wang's goal is to understand and control this nanomaterial's novel electrical, vibrational and optical behavior. "Unlike what is seen in normal metals or semiconductors, electrons in graphene travel like the massless relativistic photons that make up light," Wang says. "Graphene also exhibits incredible structural flexibility, mechanical strength, and unusual optical properties, but what is most remarkable is the possibility of being able to modify and control these properties through interlayer coupling, nanoscale patterning and electrical gating."
  • Feng Yuan - Yuan is a physicist with Berkeley Lab's Nuclear Sciences Division. His project is titled, "Theoretical Investigation of Nucleon Structure." The goal is to develop a theoretical framework and phenomenological techniques that could lead to a better understanding of nucleons - the collective name for the protons and neutrons that make up the nucleus of an atom. "Understanding the structure of the nucleon is a fundamental question in sub-atomic physics, and it has been under intensive investigation for the last several years," Yuan says. "Modern research focuses in particular on the spin and the gluonic structure of the nucleon, which are key questions in current nuclear physics and major driving forces for research programs at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and the Jefferson Lab."
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