The Trip Home

Hello MRS!  Well, this is it, the last half hour.  Like many of you, I am heading back home soon.  For me, home is New Orleans, where I will return to my lab full of the new knowledge and insights that I learned over the past week.  I will return to my friends, and especially to my fiancé, who has been patiently waiting for me for the past week.  I will get back to work to prepare results to present at next year's MRS meeting.  This is the cycle, and hopefully sooner or later I will graduate!  For now, my plan is simply to take the fantastic Phoenix Metro Light Rail back to the Sky Harbor airport, and fly to NOLA (with a brief stop in Las Vegas).  

I hope that you all enjoyed this spring MRS conference, and I also hope you enjoyed the blog posts here on the MRS Meeting Scene.  I give a big shout-out to my fellow bloggers and to the MRS staff that make the MRS meeting scene possible, especially Judy Meiksin.  

I wish you all a wonderful year, a pleasant summer, and a safe trip home.  

-John, your faithful blogger.

ES10: Frontiers in Oxide Interface Spintronics—Magnetoelectrics, Multiferroics and Spin-Orbit Effects

Masaki Uchida, University of Tokyo

Metallic Domain Wall at Antiferromagnetic Pyrochlore Iridate Heterointerface

Written by Trevor Clark

Iridates in the 5d family of alloys exhibit strong spin-orbit coupling and novel ground states. These ground states lead to anomalous properties, such as anomalous insulating in the Ba2IrO4. Pyrochlore iridates also demonstrate interesting physics. The archetypical lattice of Ln2Ir2O7 has a frustrated lattice, and experiences antiferromagnetic ordering when specific lanthanide elements are in the lattice. The 5d orbital elements are tetragonally coordinated and can either have their moments aligned all-in or all-out. There are new topological states between metal and insulator known as the Dirac semi-metal. These materials are made with solid phase epitaxy; however, the strict topological requirements result in polycrystalline samples with metallic domain walls separating them. This has interesting implications for selectively conductive applications. These materials magnetic and electronic ordering properties are investigated by patterning heterostructures. Magnetotransport, conductivity, and topological phases are investigated. These materials may have potential applications in edge current devices, topological quantum computation, and skyrmion memory; however, more materials development and study are required.

ED6: Nanostructured Quantum-Confined Materials for Advanced Optoelectronics

Joseph Luther, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Solar Cells of Perovskite Quantum Dots—Stable Cubic CsPbI3 Films for High-Efficiency Photovoltaics

Written by Ahmad R. Kirmani

Hybrid perovskites have risen over the past few years to become a global phenomenon in the field of renewables research. The implications appear imminent—flexible solar cells, displays, and laser diodes—marking the arrival of the long-awaited flexible electronics. This can be taken to a higher tier by engineering quantum confinement in these materials by fabricating perovskite quantum dots (PQDs). PQDs are colloidal solutions that combine color-tunability and solution-processability, stretching the advantages of perovskites to the next level. These materials, however, suffer from a phase-stabilization problem that limits their utilization at room temperature and hence their practicability.

The research team led by Joseph Luther at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has exploded on the PQD scene recently with their landmark discovery of phase-stabilized PQDs. These PQD inks are stable at room temperature and exhibit excellent optoelectronic properties. The vast potential of this breakthrough is getting realized in the form of high-performing solar cells. The group has recently reached >13% power-conversion efficiency (PCE) solar cells employing thin films of their stable PQDs as the solar power absorber. The devices feature unusually low voltage losses, an indication of the clean, trap-free surfaces of these nanocrystals. This new class of energy harvesters, Luther believes, is an ideal candidate as the top cell for next-generation stable, high-performance tandem solar cells that can maximize harvest of the solar spectrum.

MRS Membership Beyond the Meetings

As the MRS spring meeting is winding down, I am remembering that in some ways the meeting keeps going.  The physical conference is over, but hopefully we are all members of the Materials Research Society, and can enjoy the benefits year-round.  This includes another big meeting, MRS Fall, typically in Boston.  It also includes countless other smaller, more specialized meetings either hosted or co-hosted by MRS.  I encourage you all to keep track of these conferences, and use them as a way to deepen your relationship with MRS.  In addition, MRS puts out several publications; my personal favorite is the materials 360 Newsletter, which keeps us up-to-date on the latest news in the materials research world.  Finally, MRS as an organization has lots of resources to help with networking and job-hunting.  The point is, the MRS spring meeting ends today, but MRS does not; it is a valuable network of people and tools that greatly benefits all of its members.  

Until next time,


SM4: A Soft Future—From Electronic Skin to Robotics and Energy Harvesting

Iain Anderson, University of Auckland
Towards a Continuous Sensory Experience and Autonomic Nervous System for Soft Robots
Written by Akshay Phadnis
The new age robotics designs should seek to achieve continuous sensory feedback, coupling strain feedback to electrical activity and integrated local pace-making for controlling actuator groups. Multifunctional dielectric materials (DE) sandwiched between flexible, stretchable elastomers offers such designs. The change in thickness of elastomeric sheets due to stretching changes the capacitance of the dielectric medium. Based on this change in capacitance, motion can be estimated. However, these devices have limited scope due to large wiring requirements (more number of senors, more number of connections). Iain Anderson developed strain-based skin sensor systems that have combined multiple sensors through a single wiring via use of auxiliary resistors. A thin sheet of DE material sandwiched between elastomeric sensory layers in a two-dimensional (2D) array of parallel capacitor sets with a 2D transmission line. For these 2D sensory motions, the motion of a jellyfish is a source of inspiration. At the same time, the strain inside the polymeric layers can be used as a switch, a piezoresistive dielectric elastomer switch (DES). These switches can be used to influence the actuation of dielectric elastomer actuators (DEA). Grouping together the DES and DEA in the same structure can be used for the construction of autonomous self-controlling mechanisms. One of these is a mechano-electrical oscillator capable of mimicking the motions of the caterpillar and dragonfly.

SM4: A Soft Future—From Electronic Skin to Robotics and Energy Harvesting

Mark Rentschler, University of Colorado, Boulder

Micro-Patterned Materials to Enable In Vivo Robotic Capsule Endoscope Locomotion

Written by Akshay Phadnis

Mark Rentschler of the University of Colorado, Boulder uses inspiration from the adhesive quality of insect feet to develop a micro-patterned maneuverable device for robotic capsule endoscopy. The right texture of the contact surface helps achieve just enough traction and minimum adhesion to the soft tissues in the intestine and these micro-textured surfaces paint a promising picture. The tractive and adhesive properties of these surfaces are studied using the automated traction measurement (ATM) device and are measured by work of separation and work of adhesion, respectively. This device facilitates the testing of diverse types of substrates and microstructures to quantify their tractive and adhesive characteristics; the impact of different slip ratios, contact force, and speeds can also be studied. A finite element model is developed to compensate for the inabilities offered by the ATM (such as applying correction factor). The results from experiments and from the validated FE model show that micro-patterned surfaces decrease the work of adhesion and separation significantly. Potential application for automated surgery can be the shape memory alloy endoscope, the wheeler robotic capsule and the robotic endoscope platform where these micro-patterned surfaces will be of great help. 

Graduate Student Awards

S17_Thursday_GSA_GOLD_800x404Gold Winners
Gerald Brady, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Pengcheng Chen, Northwestern University
Fudong Han, University of Maryland
Won-Kyu Lee, Northwestern University
Qiyang Lu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ye Shi, The University of Texas at Austin
Aditya Sood, Stanford University
Ye Zhang, Fudan University

S17_Thursday_GSA_SILVER_800x404Silver Winners
Swetha Barkam, University of Central Florida
Nigel Becknell, University of California, Berkeley
Michael Christiansen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sujay Desai, University of California, Berkeley
Arko Graf, Heidelberg University
Won Jun Jo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Yanxi Li, Virginia Tech
Jinxing Li, University of California, San Diego
YunHui Lin, Princeton University
Siying Peng, California Institute of Technology
Tyler Schon, University of Toronto
Yude Su, University of California, Berkeley
Lixin Sun, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Katalin Szendrei, Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich
Achim Woessner, ICFO - The Institute of Photonic Sciences
Shuozhi Xu, Georgia Institute of Technology
Zichao Ye, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Zhengshan Yu, Arizona State University
Jie Zhao, Stanford University

SM7: Emerging Membrane Materials for Sustainable Separations

Mary Laura Lind, Arizona state university

Novel Mixed Matrix Membranes for Water Purification

Written by Akshay Phadnis

Mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) use a combination of nanomaterials and polymers to offer the potential to surpass the permeability/selectivity trade-off for water purification. The challenges with current polymer RO membranes is their lower efficiency and lack of chemical selectivity for ions. Even the NASA international space station uses a water filtration system that results in 30% loss of water with very low PH values (1.5–2.0). The molecular sieve nanocomposite membrane offers a liquid-barrier and sustainable polymer matrix. This kind of design benefits from high flux and selectivity of molecular sieve nanoparticles and sustainability, liquid-barrier offered by the polymer matrix. Since the polymer only forms the support matrix and is not actually required to permeate the water through it, range polymers can be used and desired properties can be imparted. The development of MMMs poses some challenges though. Mary Laura Lind of Arizona State University uses a dip-coating method with controlled drying (drying at a very slow rate) to obtain the desired composition. But still, there are a few challenges toward achieving the final goal of making a high-efficiency, sustainable membrane for water filtration.   

People carrying around posters

You know you're near a scientific conference when you see people walking around with mysterious cylindrical containers slung over their shoulders.  This is the result of the evolution of the large poster-carrying tube containers.  Of course I joined in on the fad myself; My lab has a black plastic poster holder with a strap that we take turns borrowing to conferences.  Some have nicer leather ones, some have cardboard tubes, they come in many shapes and sizes.  But what I often wonder is, what do other people around town and at airports think we are carrying in these tubes?  I know personally that, before I became a grad student, if I saw someone walking around with one of those cylinders, I assumed he was carrying some sort of rifle.  Maybe a fishing pole?  What on earth could possibly be in there?  

They also have a practical, probably unintended purpose; someone carrying a poster tube can instantly be recognized as a fellow conference-goer.  It makes for an easy conversation-started, since you know that person probably has some interesting work that they are excited to present and tell you about.  

Therefore, I think its a great thing to be a member of this fraternity of poster-carrying conferencers.  I certainly see many folks walking around today with their posters, undoubtedly getting ready to take them home.  Wear it proudly!

Fall in love with Arizona in 3 steps

Hello dear members:

As you might know, this is our last day of the MRS -Spring meeting17, there is a saying: "Nothing good last forever", and probably this is the reason why the MRS it's just 5 days. As we don't have tonight a poster presentation and if you are probably flying back to home tomorrow or Sunday  you will have a free time to spend. Due to that, I wanted to give you some suggestions of my top 3 places to visit. I was living around the Tempe-Phoenix area and I can guarantee, my suggestions in here.

Heard Museum: Known for its award-winning exhibits, the Heard Museum uses its collections and first-person voice to tell the stories of American Indian cultures while at the same time celebrates the diverse achievements of today’s artists. Experience the Heard’s many exhibition galleries that include both ongoing shows and changing exhibits featuring an array of artists and art forms. They have severals exhibitions, such as: Frida Kahlo  and Diego Rivera: This exhibit offers a rare opportunity to see firsthand masterpieces by two of the most important and recognizable artists of the 20th century, making Phoenix it's only North American stop on a world tour.  (Directions)

Do not miss this Museum, it's juts 15 minutes far from the Phoenix Convention Center. 


Heard Museum- Outside picture, taken by AHG


Phoenix Art Museum: An institution of exciting art and learning since 1959, Phoenix Art Museum has become the largest art museum in the southwestern United States, providing access to art from all over the world to the people of Arizona.  Right now it's having several exhibition, but the Samurai Exhibition was my favorite. The exhibition, organized by The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum in Dallas, Texas, features more than 140 objects of warrior regalia, with full suits of armor, helmets and masks, weapons, horse tack, and other battle gear. It traces the evolution of the distinctive appearance and equipment of the samurai through the centuries and examines the warriors’ history through works of consummate craftsmanship and exquisite design. Directions

Desert Botanical Garden: If you still did't fall in love with Arizona, well this is one of most iconic places to Visit in Arizona, at least for me.  The Desert Botanical Garden provides a world-class experience for every visitor. Through permanent trailside exhibits, temporary art exhibitions and seasonal experiences we seek to transform the visitor experience into one of discovery and meaning about the desert and desert plants. Directions

Well, I hope this information could be helpful for you. Let me know how was your overall experience at the MRS- I'll be more than happy to know AraceliHG02.

Have a wonderful day!