IMI-SEE Workshop Successful at Shanghai Lab Print E-mail

Participants of the IMI-SEE workshop at Shanghai University were given a tour of the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility.

Sometimes a trip across the world is exactly what needs to happen in order for materials science researchers to collaborate on cutting-edge technology.

That’s what transpired when 30 participants attended the China-U.S. Workshop on Energy and Environment Materials at the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility (SSFR) Nov. 1-2, 2011, in China.

“I really appreciated the chance to meet with Chinese researchers and to discuss future collaborations with them,” said John Cerne, of University of Buffalo-SUNY, who presented “Polarization-Sensitive Infrared Magneto-Optical Studies of New Materials” at the workshop. “Having the meeting at the SSRF was a great idea, and I really appreciated the chance to see firsthand and learn more about this remarkable facility.”

The event was organized by the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics and the NSF-funded International Materials Institute on Solar Energy and Environment (IMI-SEE). One of the aims of IMI-SEE is foster collaborations between America and China in the areas of solar energy conversion and environmental protection.

Graduate students Lodricks Wangatia, from left to right, Wilson Lelei, Sylvia Lou, Wenju Xu and Xinyi Chen share their research during the poster session at the IMI-SEE workshop at Shanghai University in November 2011.

Apisak Meesrisom, a student at Columbia University, appreciated the opportunity to network with research groups from both continents. He and other researchers discussed using one of the beamlines at the Shanghai Synchrotron to measure the structure change for different particle sizes of ceria oxide nanoparticles at high pressure. The workshop also will benefit his future research in the field.

“The workshop gave me many resources to adapt many techniques for material characterizations such as IR and new generation of Synchrotron light source,” he said.

Besides research lectures and group discussion, the two-day workshop included a poster session and tour of the lab. Following the workshop, American participants went on a tour of the city that included the Bund, Shanghai Municipal History Museum, the City God Temple, and a traditional tea ceremony.

Chase Ellis, a student of the University at Buffalo-SUNY, enjoyed sight-seeing and networking. He said that he will collaborate with researchers at the SSRF to develop a high intensity, multi-plexed, broadband infrared magneto-optics beamline.

“This is a rare opportunity since Synchrotrons with open beamline positions are not available for development often,” he said. “This work would be revolutionary, since one of our greatest struggles is finding a high intensity, coherent, infrared, broadband source.”

Solar Cells Workshop Animates Researchers, Propels More Collaborations Print E-mail

University of Pittsburgh Prof. Di Gao speaks to one of the Chinese participants about his research at the IMI-SEE workshop at Xiamen University in October 2011.

With increasing environmental concerns, the wave of the future is upon us, and low-cost dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) are part of the solution.

The topic was of much consideration at a joint U.S.-China scientific workshop at Xiamen University Oct. 25-26, 2011. Themes of the workshop included materials synthesis and characterization, device fabrication, as well as modeling and new designs.

Prof. Jonathan Rochford, of the University of Massachusetts in Boston who was one of 46 participants, presented the talk, “Non-Innocent Ligand Architectures for Dye Sensitized Solar Cell Applications,” at the event organized by the NSF-funded International Materials Institute on Solar Energy and Environment (IMI-SEE).

“The chance to share research ideas and troubleshoot problems is critical for progress in any field,” he said.

During the IMI-SEE workshop at Xiamen University, Prof. Zhiquin Lin of Iowa State University talks with a Chinese student about her poster and project.

Rochford will be involved in one of the projects that is in the plans since the workshop, and money for all of the research is being proposed from the funding agencies of the participants’ respective countries. He would like to team up with Prof. Daibin Kuang of Sun Yat-sen University to explore novel applications of dye-sensitized solar cells.

Rochford also liked the opportunity to bring one of his graduate students, Helen Zhao. Since exposure to the workshop, she “has become more focused and determined to achieve in her research.”

Zhao enjoyed meeting accomplished professors from the U.S. and China who have common interests of materials chemistry in solar energy applications.

“Attending the IMI-SEE workshop opened my eyes to a host of research disciplines,” she said. “Through this workshop, I realized the importance of the international scientific collaboration. It accelerates the development of the DSSC project, and it has the potential to solve complex problems.”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and Xiamen University sponsored the workshop to foster U.S.-China cooperation in addressing energy and environmental challenges. The two-day workshop consisted of research lectures, student poster session, lab and campus tour, and group discussion.

Atiya Jordan, a graduate student from Louisiana State University, also thought the workshop was fruitful.

“The combination of a great workshop and amazing tours of Xiamen made the Joint U.S.-China Workshop on Dye-sensitized Solar Cells a memorable experience,” Jordan said.

Last Updated on Monday, February 27 2012 12:50
Vietnam Workshop Launches International Solar Cell Collaborations Print E-mail
Participants, who attended the Expanded US-Vietnam Workshop on Solar Energy Conversion 2012 in Vietnam, learn of various research projects at the Institute of Applied Materials Science faculty members during a lab tour.
Three potential research projects emerged during discussions, such as this one, during the Expanded US-Vietnam Workshop on Solar Energy Conversion 2012.

World demand for energy might double by 2050 and triple by the end of the century. Such a scenario will demand alternative energy sources, and solar energy might be the answer. For as long as the sun exists, sunlight is free and unlimited.

To ensure more education and cross-continental collaboration of solar cells, the Institute of Applied Materials Science (IAMS) and the International Materials Institute on Solar Energy and Environment (IMI-SEE) organized the Expanded US-Vietnam Workshop on Solar Energy Conversion Jan. 29-31, 2012, at the Vietnamese institute in Hochiminh City. The workshop was also funded by The Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

"As a result of the workshop, VAST and IAMS are considering investing funds to establish research facilities in Ho Chi Minh in order to turn the prospect of international research cooperation into a reality," said R.P.H. Chang, director of IMI-SEE, which is based at Northwestern University.

The workshop addressed the fundamentals, progress, and challenges in a wide range of organic related photovoltaic technologies, including polymer solar cells, small molecular solar cells, and organic-inorganic hybrid solar cells.

Christine K. Luscombe, professor with the University of Washington, who presented the panel, "Star-shaped and hyperbranched semiconducting polymers for organic photovoltaic applications," enjoyed learning about other people's work in a related field but from a different perspective. Researchers hailed from Australia, Japan, Korea, America, and Vietnam.

The two-day workshop program consisted of lectures, a poster session, lab tours, and a group discussion session to plan joint education initiatives and collaborative research projects. The workshop will launch collaborations on TiO2-based Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC); organic photovoltaic devices (OPVs); and doping of CZTS with PECVD.

Mark Dante, a scientist and project manager at ThinSilicon Corp., thought the workshop was fruitful. He hopes to collaborate with a researcher at VNU to create nanostructured substrates, upon which his company will build "micromorph" cells or thin film silicon solar cells.

"I especially enjoyed the diversity of the speakers?? research areas. It was interesting to hear about current advances in several different types of solar energy research," Dante said. "Also, the small size of the workshop allowed me to have a lot of close interaction with the other speakers, allowing for extensive discussions."

Last Updated on Wednesday, May 30 2012 10:36
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
Dalian Workshop Spurs New Materials Science Collaborations Print E-mail
Prof. Simon Phillpot of the University of Florida gives a graduate student some feedback on her project at the IMI-SEE workshop at Dalian University of Technology in China.

A workshop at the Dalian Institute of Technology in China in 2011 not only provided the seeds to new collaborations between U.S. and Chinese researchers, but pushed forward the advancement of materials science while inspiring young researchers.

Organized by the institute and the International Materials Institute on Solar Energy and Environment (IMI-SEE), the event brought together 22 participants and an extra 50 or more people who sat in on the lectures Sept. 27-29, 2011, in the Liaoning province of China. Veteran and junior scientists of varying disciplines collaborated on ideas and potential projects.

“The Dalian workshop was very eye-opening for many of the participants,” IMI-SEE Director R.P.H. Chang said. “In particular we have learned that it is one of the leading science and technology universities in China, and it has materials science and engineering professors who actually design and construct their own research equipment with their students. In addition, they have leading experts in materials theory.”

Chang added that the collaborative discussions of projects were very beneficial and fruitful and, as a result, dialogues are continuing in the topical areas of the workshop.

Jackelyn Martinez, a graduate student at the University of Florida, especially enjoyed the experience of working with researchers from other fields.

“Sometimes in research I feel that we can be too close to a problem that we get stuck,” she said. “Seeing the way different disciplines look at the same problem helped me to remember to take steps back in my own research and remember that there are always different ways to solve a problem.”

Solving problems through such collaborations is precisely one of the goals of IMI-SEE. Launched in August 2009 by Northwestern University in partnership with Louisiana State University and a network of more than ten universities and research institutes in China and 15 in the United States, the NSF-funded IMI-SEE aims to foster U.S.-China research, encourage the sharing of research facilities in both countries, and create education programs that facilitate leadership and training.

Prof. Evgueni Nesterov of Lousiana State University speaks with a Dalian University of Technology researcher during a lab tour. U.S. participants were introduced to the many projects that are being carried out at DUT during the IMI-SEE workshop in September 2011.

Themes of the workshop included nanostructured materials, energy and environment materials, as well as modeling and simulation. The latter was apparent in a discussion that Bob Lochner, a graduate student from the Colorado School of Mines, participated in.

“I was able to observe a discussion in which my adviser, two other American scientists, and two Chinese scientists developed the idea of a collaboration drawing on the modeling, synthesis, and device optimization specializations of those present,” he said. “It was really valuable to me to see how collaboration such as this comes together, and it was exciting to see how the research of one can inform the research of others, and in this case could mean going from an idea to an actual device.”

Besides energizing participants, two promising projects emerged from the workshop. One proposal includes the exploration of inorganic and organic core-shell quantum clusters within a hierarchically organized organic semiconductors that can be created through novel nanofabrication technologies. Another potential venture is to characterize the effects of microstructural elements such as grain boundaries, dislocations, voids and gas bubbles on the development of and recovery of radiation damage in Ti and Zr, two HCP metals representing clad for nuclear fuel.

Carlos Chavez, a graduate student from Louisiana State University, thought the experience was invaluable.

“Overall, the workshop was an excellent experience that will greatly benefit my future career choices in materials science,” he said. “The greatest benefit that I have taken from my trip is the chance to network with intelligent young scientists from institutions far from home.”

Last Updated on Friday, February 24 2012 14:08
IUMRS – MRS Singapore Young Researcher Award 2012 Print E-mail

The inaugural “International Union of Materials Research Societies – International Conference of Young Researchers on Advanced Materials (IUMRS – ICYRAM 2012)” organized by the Materials Research Society of Singapore (MRS Singapore) will be held at Biopolis, Singapore, during 1 – 6 July, 2012 ( In order to recognize the outstanding contributions made by young researchers on materials science, IUMRS and MRS Singapore have jointly instituted the “IUMRS – MRS Singapore Young Researcher Award”. This award will be presented at the forthcoming IUMRS – ICYRAM 2012.

The nominee for this award must not have reached his/her 40th birthday on or before 1st July 2012. In the spirit of the true materials research, a nominee must have done interdisciplinary, innovative research demonstrating high level of excellence and distinction. The said research work must have made a significant contribution to the development and fundamental understanding of the concerned topic as a whole.

The award consists of S$5,000 (Singapore dollars five thousand) cash prize, a presentation trophy, and a certificate. The recipient of the award must be personally present at the IUMRS-ICYRAM 2012 and give an award lecture. No travel grant will be provided by the conference organizers. However, accommodation at one of the modest conference hotels for the conference duration (6 nights) and a waiver of the registration fee will be provided.

Those who wish to be considered for the “IUMRS – MRS Singapore Young Researcher Award 2012” must submit their nomination directly to Prof. Andrew Wee, Award Subcommittee Chair, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 30 April 2012. Peer- and organizational- nominations are also welcome subject to the nominee agreeing for the terms and conditions of the award.

The submitted nomination package must provide the following:

  1. Curriculum Vitae (2-pages maximum) including evidence for the date of birth
  2. List of recent key publications (2-pages maximum)
  3. Summary of achievements, awards and honors (1-page maximum)
  4. Name and brief credentials of the three distinguished materials scientists whom nominee has contacted to provide confidential support letters highlighting the creativity of the nominee and the impact his or her research work has created. These letters must be sent by the supporters directly to Prof. Andrew Wee, Award Subcommittee Chair, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 30 April 2012 for the nomination to be considered.

The decision of the award subcommittee is final and no inquiries will be entertained.

arrow arrow  Download Announcement flyer (pdf)

Last Updated on Friday, February 03 2012 12:44
IMI is Working with MWM to Promote Materials Education Around the World Print E-mail

For the third time since spring of 2011, IMI-SEE is teaming up with Materials World Modules (MWM) to bring materials science education to students in Qatar.

qatar 2
After building a scale-sized stadium, two students from Naser bin Abdullah School in Qatar design polymers to reduce humidity of such a stadium. The project was the culmination of the Polymers module curriculum.

“The purpose is that Qatar University and the government have invited us to work with their schools, teachers and students to strengthen their STEM education programs so there will be more students attending universities to study science and engineering,” said R.P.H. Chang, director of both IMI-SEE and MWM at Northwestern University.

In collaboration with scientists, researchers and educators, the NSF-funded MWM program has produced a series of modules on topics in materials science, from composites and biosensors to polymers and food packaging. Intended for middle school or high school, the curricula builds skills in science, technology, engineering and math to prepare students for future careers in materials research and development. The modules include games and other introductory attention-grabbers then build up to inquiry-based activities. The units, which typically last two weeks, culminate with design projects. For instance, students design their own fishing poles in the composites module or humidity sensors in the polymers module. Thus, students emulate the roles of both scientist and engineer.

The science-rich hands-on lessons and labs have already produced results around the world, from Chihuahua where thousands of Mexican students have been exposed to the modules, to Qatar. When Chang and MWM content developer Matthew Hsu of Northwestern University first visited the Qatar peninsula last May, the effect of the authentic science learning was significant.

The 25 secondary students who participated in the program showed improved attitudes toward science and research. Moreover, the students’ parents and teachers indicated that they became more cooperative and organized, and showed more interest in going to school. More specifically, the percentage of students who strongly agreed that their skills in scientific experiments rose from 48% to 72%. Those who agreed they were capable of invention also surged from 40% to 60%. Moreover, 63% of their teachers thought that their ability to solve problems increased.

qatar 3
Two Qatari juniors attempt to make a ball that successfully goes through an obstacle course, as part of the MWM Sports Materials Module.

The second visit was more extensive, as about 300 11th-graders at 13 secondary schools participated. Hsu saw similar results. Students made gains in key concepts, such as nanotechnology, polymers, and composites. For instance, scores of 36 students increased a standard deviation of 1.12—an equivalent to about one whole grade, such as a “C” to a “B”—from the pre- to post-tests for each of the three modules.

Students were immediately engaged from the first week and by the end of the units were empowered to independently design. This was apparent in the biodegradable materials unit when students wanted to go beyond making a biodegradable medicinal capsule. A handful of students wanted to create a biodegradable flower pot, which they planned to pursue outside of the classroom, Hsu said. Even reluctant students who attempted to do the bare minimum learned a lot about the concepts and were met with success.

Fatima Ali, along with classmates Jazi al-Kuwari and Mariam al-Kuwari from Al-Resala Independent Secondary School for Girls, created a solar cell that operates small electrical devices.

“The sun is a renewable and sustainable source of energy,” Fatima said. “It is the future of our planet if we learn how to use it wisely and scientifically. In this way, we were able to successfully operate an alarm clock and a small toy. Expanding this concept will ensure our children’s future.”

Hsu, who will revisit Qatar this February, said that very few students across the world have really experimented with dye solar cells.

“These kids were the first ones in Qatar to experience this cutting-edge technology,” he said.

Last Updated on Monday, February 27 2012 15:31
Welcome to the New IMI-SEE site! Print E-mail
Monday, February 01 2010 00:00

This site is community owned and community driven. This means that we are counting on IMI members to enrich it with your research highlights, event listings, and education news! In the coming months, IMI-SEE members will also have access to online community workspaces.

We are still finalizing these features and writing FAQ descriptions to help you use this site. Thank you for your patience as we work out technical difficulties in this initial phase.

Meanwhile, if you are experiencing trouble or need assistance, please Contact Us and we will respond as soon as possible.

Last Updated on Thursday, March 18 2010 16:31