Educational Opportunities Result from Sichuan Workshop Print E-mail

Professor Tang Ya, of Sichuan University, asks a question during discussion time at the China-U.S. Workshop on Nano-materials, Energy and Environment at the Chinese university.

The China-U.S. Workshop on Nano-materials, Energy and Environment Sept. 15-16, 2011 at Sichuan University in Chengdu in Southwest China brought together 38 participants and concluded with more educational opportunities in the works.

Out of the workshop rose discussion of new courses on energy and environmental topics at the Chinese university for graduate students in the summer of 2012. The proposal included five days of instruction with mornings devoted to lecture and the afternoons devoted to lab work, field work, and project planning. Prof. Kimberly Gray of Northwestern’s chemical and biochemical engineering department will delve into the use of ecological methods to control nutrient pollution and look at technological ways of removing nutrients, energy and the environment.

In additional, Aron Varga, a graduate student participant from California Institute of Technology, is currently in discussion with Professor Tang Ya from Sichuan University about the possibility of teaching a one- to two-month summer course on electrochemistry with a focus on batteries, fuel cells and battery recycling, or a similar topic on alternative energy sources.  

U.S. students Aron Varg of Caltech and Tiezheng Tong of Northwestern pose in front of their posters at the Sichuan workshop sponsored by IMI-SEE.

“Multiple collaboration opportunities were explored during individual discussions on the last day,” said Varga, who found other researchers who were exploring project ideas that could tie into his specialty: high performance electrodes for solid acid fuel cells as well as the fundamental aspects of catalysis.

“Specifically, the need for non-precious metal catalysts—as an alternative to platinum fuel cell catalysts—and scalable, cheap production methods begs for a collaboration with Prof. Gai Guosheng from Tsinghua University in Beijing,” he said. “His production capabilities allow the fabrication of carbon supported metal catalysts, which could be directly employed in a fuel cell electrode.”

Varga also might collaborate with a Northwestern professor to determine the fundamental rate constants for the most common fuel cell catalyst. 

Steven Lubin, a graduate student at Northwestern University, found the interaction with other researchers invaluable, especially with his interest in the development of organic solar cells with plasmonically-enhanced external quantum efficiencies.  

Tiezheng Tong, graduate student from Northwestern, was among the IMI-SEE workshop participants who visited the Chengdu Research Base of the Giant Panda in Chengdu, which was one of the stops on the cultural tour of the city.

“The graduate students from the Chinese labs that I talked with are developing higher-efficiency organic solar cells,” he said. “The research groups in the United States that concentrate on these devices focus mainly on proof-of-concept experiments: they basically test a limited number of optimized cells to determine any change in efficiency. In China, however, the focus is not only on improving the efficiency. The graduate students also take into account the viability of commercializing these technologies.”

Last Updated on Friday, February 24 2012 15:52