Brookhaven Lab and University of Delaware Begin Joint Initiative

Through this partnership, scientists from both institutions will conduct collaborative research on rice soil chemistry and quantum materials

Principal investigators from Brookhaven Lab and the University of Delaware (UD) will collaborate on two different research projects through a new joint initiative. Brookhaven’s Peter Johnson (left) and UD’s Stephanie Law (second from left) will measure the energy level spectrum of a topological insulator, a new type of material that behaves as an insulator internally but as a conductor on the surface; Brookhaven’s Ryan Tappero (second from the right) and UD’s Angelia Seyfferth (right) will study how toxic and nutrient metals are distributed in rice grain.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and the University of Delaware (UD) have begun a two-year joint initiative to promote collaborative research in new areas of complementary strength and strategic importance. Though Brookhaven Lab and UD already have a tradition of collaboration, especially in catalysis, this initiative encourages partnerships in strategic areas where that tradition does not yet exist. After considering several potential areas, a committee from Brookhaven and UD selected two projects—one on rice soil chemistry and the other on quantum materials—for the new initiative. For each project, one graduate student based at Brookhaven and one graduate student from UD will work with and be supervised by a principal investigator from each respective institution. The research, to start in October 2019, is funded separately by the two institutions. Brookhaven funding is provided through its Laboratory-Directed Research and Development program, which promotes highly innovative and exploratory research that supports the Lab’s mission and areas for growth.

The rice soil chemistry project, “The rice of the future: How growing practices can decrease human exposure to toxins,” is co-led by Ryan Tappero, lead scientist at the X-ray Fluorescence Microprobe (XFM) beamline at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II)—a DOE Office of Science User Facility at Brookhaven—and Angelia Seyfferth, an associate professor of biogeochemistry and plant-soil interactions in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The quantum materials project, “Growth and characterization of quantized antimony-based topological insulators,” is co-led by Peter Johnson, group leader of the Electron Spectroscopy Group in Brookhaven’s Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Division, and Stephanie Law, the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Materials Science in UD’s College of Engineering.

“Our existing collaborations with UD are producing exceptional results, and we hope that we can expand this success to other strategic areas of research through the joint initiative,” said Priscilla Antunez, assistant director for strategic partnerships at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN)—another DOE Office of Science User Facility at Brookhaven—and coordinator of the Brookhaven-UD relationship.

“The University of Delaware is pleased and excited to expand research collaborations with Brookhaven National Laboratory,” said Charlie Riordan, vice president for research, scholarship and innovation, and professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “Our work together is destined to have positive and far-reaching impacts, of benefit to our students and to society.”

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