purequantumRichard and Tobias have been awarded a clean energy accelerator grant from NEXUS-NY (New Energy Xcelerator in UpState NY).  The intent of the work is to turn their scalable method for nanoparticle production into a viable company or into a sellable licensing technology. The grant is titled: “Scalable Production of High-Quality Nanoparticles.”  PI: R. Robinson, Co-PI: T. Hanrath. The award amount is $10,000 for phase 1, (and up to $50,000 total of financial support), and it runs through October 2014. 

Richard has won a $1.5 million grant to lead an NSF Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT) to develop methods to scalable nanoparticle synthesis through the Scalable Nanomanufacturing program.    Breakthroughs in wet-chemistry have permitted scientists to create novel nanoparticles with electrical, optical, thermal, and magnetic properties.  However, scalable methods to manufacture nanoparticles and nanoparticles-devices are not yet established.  Richard’s research project aims to develop the first large-scale, solution-phase synthesis of high-quality nanoparticles, and demonstrate their integration into devices. This work will represent a step-change in the approach to realize nanoparticle-based technologies by manufacturable approaches. Prof. Robinson has teamed with Professor Tobias Hanrath of the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department for the project.  To demonstrate device integration the project will integrate the large-scale particles into battery electrodes and solar photovoltaic modules.  The grant is titled:SNM: Scalable Production and Processing of High-Quality Metal Sulfide Nanoparticles into Energy Storage and Capture Devices” Richard Robinson (PI) and Tobias Hanrath (CBE) (Co-PI). The award amount is $1,493,398 and runs through 2017.   Details of the award can be found at: 


May 11, 2012 and May 16, 2013.   Rich has been twice award a 3M Nontenured Faculty Grant for “Nanostructured Materials for Energy: Synthesis, Assembly, and Device Integration”.  This highly competitive award recognizes outstanding new faculty for the quality and pertinence of their research and is intended to help them achieve tenure, remain in their academic positions and conduct research.  In addition to the honor, the grant provides $15,000/year until tenure is achieved, up to a maximum of three years.  The award is given to nontenured faculty members who are nominated by 3M researchers and who are working on research topics that are of interest to 3M.    Award years: 2012, 2013

May 9, 2012    Rich has been awarded a NSF grant for a project entitled “Chemical Transformations of Nanoparticles for Isolation of Metastable Phases.”  Professor Robinson will investigate the fundamental chemical principles governing chemical transformations of nanoparticles.  Composition and morphology of nanoparticles are fundamental design parameters that control their properties and can be modified through secondary chemical transformation reactions.  Modification of first-generation (as-synthesized) nanoparticles through chemical transformations opens up an exciting new direction of nanoparticle synthesis because it offers the ability to independently manipulate the size, morphology, atomic structure, or chemical composition, overcoming a limitation of conventional “hot-injection” nanoparticle synthesis.  Such modified nanoparticles have promise for applications in electronics, catalysis, photonic devices, and photovoltaics.  However, little is known about the fundamental chemical mechanisms of these nanoscale transformation reactions that differ dramatically from bulk materials.  This is the core of the proposed work.  The award is $330,000 over three years, and is sponsored by the NSF Chemistry Division under the Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry (MSN) program.

April 21, 2012   The Robinson group have been awarded a Seed grant from CCMR. The proposal, “Nanometer-scale Patterning from Templates of Covalent Organic Frameworks,” will organize inorganic nanoparticles within the pores of crystalline organic networks known as covalent organic frameworks (COFs).  COFs predictably assemble molecular building blocks into periodic two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional networks linked by covalent bonds.  Inserting nanoparticles into the pores could result in interesting functions originating from specific COF-nanoparticle interactions, such as energy transfer or charge injection.  In addition, the organic matrix will organize the nanoparticles into periodic arrays with smaller features than those available through top-down patterning, like e-beam lithography.  The work is being done in conjunction with the research group of William Dichtel (Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell), who has pioneered efforts in unique COF creation and assembly. The award amount is $190,000 over one year. 


March 6, 2012   Richard has received a grant from the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program from NSF.  The grant is sponsored by the NSF Division of Materials Research under the Condensed Matter Physics (CMP) program, for $600,000 over five years to examine nanoscale vibrational heat transport. This work should inform improved engineering of such devices as thermoelectrics and microelectronic cooling modules through the exploitation of nanomaterials’ unusual thermal properties. In insulating materials, heat is transmitted by atomic vibrations, or phonons, which move through a solid like ripples in water, but much more rapidly. Existing physical theories explain heat transport well in bulk materials, but these laws break down when the same material is reduced to the nanoscale. Robinson’s research will create a phonon spectrometer to measure the interesting transport properties of these phonons at the nanoscale.


The Robinson group thanks the continued support of the Energy Materials Center at Cornell (EMC2), an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Science under Award Number DE-SC0001086.  The Robinson group’s research for the EMC2 is centered on understanding the fundamental physics of nanomaterials, such as their thermal properties, and applying novel nanosynthetic design concepts to tailor the properties of nanomaterials by controlling their size, shape, composition, and surfaces.  We are targeting new materials for lithium storage, thermoelectrics, and electrocatalysis. 

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