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Research

Glass

The Nature of Glass remains anything but clear - Kenneth Chang

While the majority of world-wide glass production focuses on windows and containers, there is a growing demand for improved specialty glasses which have become vital to a large range of technological applications. Despite these expanding needs a major challenge in tailoring the properties of new glass compositions is that we have few quantitative details about the structure of real glasses--and, of course, all macroscopic properties of a glass are a direct result of its underlying structure. A great advantage of solid-state NMR spectroscopy is its ability to reveal and quantify atomic-level structure in materials where diffraction techniques fail. This is especially true in glass, where diffraction methods rarely reveal structural details beyond the first-coordination sphere of an atom. While glass spectra in all spectroscopies are generally broad and featureless, magnetic resonance has a unique advantage in that the different spectral contributions leading to these broadenings can be separated and correlated in multi-dimensional spectra. A focus of our lab is the development and application of multi-dimensional NMR spectroscopy of glasses to determine multi-variate statistical distributions of structures in glasses. Through these distributions it will be possible to learn more about modifier cation clustering behavior, structural models of ionic transport, the mixed alkali effect, chemical strengthening, and phase separation in glasses. These new insights will help glass scientists and engineers working on the next generation of specialty glasses, impacting diverse applications such as handheld electronic devices, displays, optical fibers, glass substrates for lighting, bio-glass implants, and nuclear waste storage.

Glass-Related Publications


Batteries

All the batteries on earth can store only ten minutes of the world's energy needs. - Isidor Buchmann

If batteries could do better they would have tremendous impact on renewable energies, such as wind, wave, solar, geothermal, which all require energy storage due to transient availabilities. Likewise, the impact on all-electric vehicles would be significant. Breakthroughs in finding battery materials with better performance has long been hampered by gaps in our fundamental understanding of processes occurring at the nano- and atomic-scales during the real time operation of a battery. Another focus of our research is the development of improved operando nuclear magnetic resonance methodologies and their application to the next generation of anode and cathode materials for rechargeable batteries.

Geofluids and Porous Media

While the pores inside rocks of sedimentary basins in the lithosphere are primarily filled with brine, it is the rare occurrence of formations with pores filled mostly with hydrocarbon (C-O-H) fluids that have been of greatest economic interest. More recently, scientists and engineers have begun investigating the possibility of geological sequestration of carbon dioxide into sedimentary rocks as part of a larger strategy of carbon capture and sequestration to combat global warming. Thus, scientists and engineers around the world continue to focus their efforts on improving our understanding of the macro- and microscopic properties of fluids confined to sedimentary rocks. Our group is developing NMR methodologies for characterizing dynamics and structure at multiple length scales and their application in answering fundamental questions about rock-fluid interactions as related to gas and oil recovery and CO2 geosequestration.