MSE 298 Seminar (Zoom): A Nanoscale Approach to Gigaton Challenges; Role of Electron Microscopy in Energy, Environment and Sustainability

Zoom meeting ID and password provided below
Vinayak P. Dravid, Ph.D.

Abraham Harris Chaired Professor
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Northwestern University

Zoom meeting ID: 928 7114 0676, Passcode: 057979

Abstract: Electron microscopy, especially advanced methods in S/TEM techniques, are less frequently applied to “giga-ton” challenges of environment and sustainability. This often stems from the perceived massive length-scales, system-level complexities in aqueous environments, unlike many energy systems. However, molecular-scale interactions are critically important in environmental remediation and sequestration of pollutants. In fact, surface and interfacial phenomena are the very basis for the macroscopic environmental behavior, like hydrophobicity, oleophilicity among others. In recent years, Dravid's research group at Northwestern has been engaged in unravelling scientific challenges that have a nano/molecular-scale basis and the potential for impact in scalable technologies. These range from “designer” bulk thermoelectric materials for waste heat to energy conversion to porous/flexible and soft sponge-based materials for repeatable capture/release of pollutants. At the fundamental level, all of these materials and systems are driven by localized atomic or molecular-scale structures and phenomena. For thermoelectrics, classical thin section preparation and high-dose advanced S/TEM techniques work well to unravel complex charge and phonon transport through the labyrinth of complex microstructure. In contrast, soft and fragile sponge or foam-based materials are susceptible to not only electron beam damage but are often artifact-prone during sample preparation. Here, one has to not only develop innovative thin sectioning methods (e.g. cryo-ultramicrotomy) but must also use adaptive sampling, sparse imaging and other emerging low-dose methods, anchored by rapidly evolving ML/AI in microscopy. This presentation will cover such contrasting considerations in electron microscopy for energy, environment and sustainability challenges. It will be argued that advanced S/TEM, spanning static and dynamic sampling, have a vital role in understanding spatio-temporal phenomena in interfacial systems that are pervasive in the gigaton challenges of environment remediation and sustainable development.

Bio: Vinayak P. Dravid is the Abraham Harris Chaired Professor of materials science and engineering. He also serves as the founding director of the NUANCE Center and the NSF-NNCI-supported SHyNE Resource. SHyNE is the center of excellence for instrumentation/facility infrastructure in the Midwest. He received his bachelor's degree from IIT Bombay in 1984 and joined Northwestern soon after earning his doctorate from Lehigh University in 1990. Dravid’s scholarly interests revolve around nanoscience and nanotechnology for energy, health and environment. He has a diverse research portfolio covering advanced microscopy, nanotechnology, energy policy and emerging educational paradigms. His Google analytics include over 650+ archival journal publications, H-index of more than ~108, and more than two dozen issued/pending patents. Some of his patents are licensed to start-up companies related to nanotechnology for environment and sensor/diagnostic systems. As a Clarivate Analytics’ highly cited researcher for many years, Dravid’s awards/honors include fellowships to numerous societies including the inaugural class of fellows of the Microscopy Society of America (MSA) and the Microanalysis Society. He is also a fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society, American Physical Society, American Association for Advancement of Science, Materials Research Society (MRS), and the American Ceramic Society (ACerS). He is the recipient of the ACerS Robert L. Coble Award as well as the joint ACerS and Japanese Ceramic Society’s Richard M. Fulrath Award, MSA’s Burton Medal, among others. He is an honorary life member of MRS India, and a Hsuen Lee fellow of the Chinese Academy of Science. He has been elected to Northwestern’s Faculty Honor Roll for several years for excellence in teaching. Dravid has served as an adviser and consultant to metrology, energy/petrochemical companies, IP firms and Chicago museums. He advises NGOs, professional society outreach programs, international organizations and the private sector about science, technology and policy. One of his passions is to enhance societal and global appreciation for science and technology, especially in energy, environment and sustainability through the lens of microscopy and nanotechnology.