- May 22nd 2019 University of Maryland, College Park
Today Nick is visiting the Institute for Physical Science and Technology [IPST], hosted by Prof. Pratyush Tiwary, to give a talk and discuss homogeneity as a guiding principle in materials design for energy storage applications. We are particularly excited to be interacting with some prolific scientists in the area of measurements of adsorbate-adsorbate interactions on surfaces, which play a key role in homogeneous adsorptive energy storage systems.
- Apr 19th 2019 Dual-Ion Batteries
Manuscript accepted: dual-ion batteries (DIBs), based on the simultaneous insertion of cations and anions at the anode and cathode, respectively, have been prepared and characterized using ZTC as the bare cathode material. In the model system tested herein, potassium plating/stripping occurs at the anode, while bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide (FSI-) adsorbs/desorbs on the surface of ZTC at the cathode. The use of a permanently porous cathode material has significantly increased the power density of such DIBs while maintaining state-of-the-art energy density. Check out the details [here].
- Apr 5th 2019 USP Trifecta
Congratulations to Seth, Abby, and Russ for an incredible triple success at securing [USP] funding for the upcoming summer. Seth will be switching from high-pressure hydrogen to methane, Abby will be exfoliating graphitic materials using a series of liquid solvents, and Russ will be exploring the direct bulk synthesis of CDCs by a novel solid-state route. We are excited for the snow to melt and give way to the green Bozeman summer, and plenty of new results!
- Mar 30th 2019 Expanding Your Horizons
We had a great time hosting ~50 young scientists in our laboratory this weekend, investigating the greenhouse effect and a possible solution for carbon dioxide capture using porous adsorbent materials. We proudly carry out this work as part of the [Expanding Your Horizons] Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to sparking and/or stoking an interest in science and engineering in junior-high and high school girls across Montana. Thank you Erin for being an excellent teacher and role model to these future investigators!
- Mar 26th 2019 Langmuir: a Centennial Review
Manuscript accepted: our feature article reviewing the contributions of Dr. Irving Langmuir to the theory of adsorption has been published. Congratulations to Hans who helped significantly with the writing and research, especially in scrutinizing the large body of pre-1900 literature that is written almost entirely in German and French. We gratefully acknowledge Cory Simon and Arni Sturluson who contributed to the statistical mechanical derivations, as well as Erin Hanson who contributed her artistic talents. Learn more about the fascinating life and work of Langmuir [here].
- Feb 10th 2019 Research Expansion Fund
We are very grateful and excited to receive a Research Expansion Fund (REF) award from the Office of Research and Economic Development to support our work on [phosphorus-doped graphitic carbon], a new bulk material containing a high concentration of unoxidized phosphorus. This material has promising applications in electrochemical energy storage and conversion technologies, and we are looking forward to carrying out the next phase of its investigation.
- Jan 23rd 2019 Congrats Seth and Dylan
Congratulations to both Seth and Dylan for writing excellent proposals and receiving a full semester of [USP] funding. Seth is set up to investigate the high-pressure hydrogen storage properties of graphitic carbons containing varying concentrations of heteroatom dopants, especially B and N. Dylan is working on the technicolour synthesis of boron-doped graphitic carbon via a (somewhat troublesome) top-secret precursor, and will take a shot at "cracking" its code. Good luck guys!
- Jan 10th 2019 Howdy Izzy
Today we are very excited to announce that our group has grown yet again! We welcome Izzy Gordon from Penn State University to the team. Izzy will be focused on the synthesis and properties of carbon-phosphorus materials, with an emphasis toward electrochemical energy storage applications. May the wind be ever at your back!
- Dec 10th 2018 Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
Today Nick is visiting the [Kyotani Laboratory], hosted by Prof. Hirotomo Nishihara, to give a talk and discuss carbon-based framework materials for advanced applications ranging from gas storage to supercapacitors and hybrid electrochemical energy storage devices. We are extremely grateful for this learning experience and warm hospitality shown by our hosts.
- Dec 7th 2018 TANSO, Nagoya, Japan
Nick is giving a talk at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Carbon Society of Japan today about our latest results regarding new highly porous electrodes for dual-ion batteries. We are very grateful to [TANSO] for the invitation. This is both a highly stimulating meeting and an amazing cultural exchange.
- Nov 9th 2018 Congratulations Katrina
We are thrilled that Katrina Sandoval has been selected as a Presidential Emerging Scholar to continue her work on crystal growth, specifically toward large single-crystals of X- and Y-type zeolites. What a fantastic honour - and this is just the beginning! More information about this unique award can be found [here].
- Oct 22nd 2018 Hans Gets the Quattro
Congratulations to Hans for securing his fourth (4th!) round of [USP] funding, to continue his dedicated research into the elusive adsorption of helium on porous carbon materials. We are very excited for the next several months of this work, and the submission of our first manuscript to Langmuir.
- Oct 12th 2018 New Materials Cookin'
With incoming graduate student rotations well underway, we are excited to report (well, tease) the discovery and synthesis of a new compound. We're now headed back in the direction of electron-poor, heteroatom-doped graphitic phases with all sorts of interesting potential applications in energy storage and catalysis. Much remains to characterize and understand here, but we promise to give an update ASAP. Well done, Devin and Izzy!
- Sep 27th 2018 ERI Annual Meeting
Devin and Nick gave talks at this year's Energy Research Institute (ERI) meeting, with the main theme being new chemical routes to tuning the energy storage characteristics of graphitic carbon, both for gas storage (especially methane and hydrogen) as well as electrochemical energy storage (in capacitive batteries). Montana has a bright future (literally!) for solar energy, but clever storage concepts will be a key part of the overall solution. We are grateful to be involved in the discussion!
- Sep 14th 2018 IWPMA, Pretoria, South Africa
Nick is giving a talk at the International Workshop on Porous Materials and their Applications (IWPMA) today about our group's efforts to design and synthesize carbon framework materials with homogeneous structure and composition: zeolite-templated carbon (ZTC). This approach may just be a promising route to obtaining the elusive three-connected, negatively curved fullerenes carrying minimal surface topology known as Schwarzites, but much work remains to be carried out... In the meantime, we continue to employ ZTC in several new applications, especially as fast and high-capacity battery electrode materials. We are very grateful to [CSIR] for the invitation.
- Aug 27th 2018 Langmuir's 100th
One hundred years have passed since the publication of Irving Langmuir's third installment in his classic trifecta of papers we refer to internally as [Langmuir 1916], [Langmuir 1917], and [Langmuir 1918]. Together, these works birthed the multifaceted field of surface science that comprises such hugely important subdisciplines as heterogeneous catalysis and porous materials science. Our group is indebted to both the theoretical and experimental cleverness of this work, and we still plunge deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole a century later. This week we celebrate. Happy centennial!
- Aug 2nd 2018 Farewell Serge
Well, Serge, you really made an impact on our group in a short period of time. We are both excited for you to start a daring new adventure in Urbana-Champaign and sad to miss out on the day-to-day good humour, dedicated work ethic, and clever workarounds you demonstrated here. Rest assured, with your experiments as a strong foundation we will continue to forge ahead (no pun intended!) in our efforts to tame the disordered heteroatom-doped graphites you've lent your time and steady hands to over the last year. All the best et bon voyage!
- Jul 27th 2018 5k Fun Run
The inaugural Chemistry and Biochemistry 5k Fun Run is officially on the books! As much as we all love to spend time in the lab, on this classic summer Friday afternoon we took to the trails just south of campus for a pleasant jaunt in the woods to see which research group has the fastest legs. This year, the Pincus Group took home the trophy, with Mark Raymond leading the way. Nice work Mark! More photos can be found [here].
- Jul 16th 2018 Howdy Emily
We are very excited to be joined this summer by Emily Morley, a seasoned veteran of undergraduate research on high surface area, functional materials, on loan for the summer from Idaho State University as part of the REU program sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Emily is turning her attention here to the thinnest allotrope of pure carbon, graphene, and its very recently developed little brothers, highly-doped phosphorus- and boron-containing graphene. Happy ripping, Emily!
- Jul 4th 2018 Second (Annual!) Fourth Float
Hans and Serge successfully navigate the Yellowstone below the Yankee Jim rapids, taking a well-earned lazy day off from the lab. Emily R. (+Jacob), Devin, Julie (+Ben), and Michael float somewhere out of frame... Happy Fourth of July!
- Jun 22nd 2018 Phosphorus-Doped Graphitic Carbon
Manuscript accepted: we report a fast, cheap, and simple new synthesis route to high phosphorus-content graphitic carbon, PCx, directly from two liquid precursors (benzene and phosphorus trichloride). This material is produced in bulk form (as opposed to as a thin-film) permitting its use in batteries or as an electrocatalyst. Interestingly, stabilized white phosphorus (P4) also exists in some form in all of the materials we make by this route, which opens up all sorts of interesting paths forward! Check out the details [here].
- Jun 11th 2018 First Grant Received
We are grateful to receive our first seed of support in the form of a [Petroleum Research Fund (PRF)] grant from the American Chemical Society. This work seeks to investigate the role of heteroatom dopants in advanced porous carbon adsorbents designed for high-pressure methane storage near ambient temperature. The fire has been stoked!
- May 25th 2018 Kaitlin Nails It
Congrats to Erin and Kaitlin G. who are officially producing pristine FAU-type zeolite-templated carbon (ZTC) on our custom low-pressure CVD apparatus. And, for Kaitlin, on the first try (with a little help from Erin...) no less. We're cookin' with gas, literally! Stay tuned for all sorts of new applications for these ultraporous carbon framework materials...
- Apr 26th 2018 Undergraduate Awards
Hearty congratulations to our well-decorated team of undergrads (Kaitlin B., Kaitlin G., Seth, Hans, and Rylan) who cleaned up at the Awards Ceremony this warm Thursday evening, and especially to Kaitlin B. who will be graduating next weekend. We wish you all the best. It's now so close to the best time of the year, and we anticipate an action packed summer of research and adventures in the local playground that is southwestern Montana.
- Apr 11th 2018 Helium and Hans
Hans has been hard at work trying to measure the unmeasureable: helium adsorption on carbon surfaces. Since helium is used as the quintessential probe molecule to determine void volume, its adsorption cannot be quantified in the usual way. The goal of this work is to determine the temperature at which void volume measurement is unambiguously possible, and then to deduce helium adsorption at lower temperatures by comparison (early isotherms shown at left). Hans's hard work has recently paid off in the form of additional funding from the [USP]: well done Hans, and keep up the good work!
- Mar 16th 2018 Open Access
Our two articles from 2017 were recently opened up to free public access. Zeolite-templated carbon was demonstrated as a battery electrode material in an aluminum-chloride-based electrochemistry, and a new synthetic route to boron-doping of bulk graphitic carbon up to ~BC3 was reported. Check them out [here] and [here].
- Feb 16th 2018 Hydrogen & Energy Symposium
Nick is giving two talks today, one in the morning at the 2018 Hydrogen & Energy Symposium at EPFL (Lausanne, Switzerland) and one in the afternoon at the Laboratory of Inorganic Chemistry (ETH Zürich, Switzerland). Both talks broadly cover our group's work on heteroatom inclusion in porous and bulk graphitic carbon materials to enhance hydrogen uptake at ambient temperature.
- Feb 11th 2018 Congrats Serge
Serge Zvenigorodsky has been notified of his successful application for funding from the [Undergraduate Scholars Program] for his work on synthesizing and processing heteroatom-doped graphites directly from liquid precursors. So far, Serge has developed a great hand for quartz working, and is off to a fast start with several custom-blown contraptions for heat-treating his lightweight graphitic flakes under flowing atmospheres. Happy torching!
- Jan 24th 2018 Howdy Erin and Daniel
Today we are very excited to welcome Erin Hanson and Daniel Arenas to the group. Erin will be focusing on the synthesis of zeolite-templated carbon, ordered porous materials at the very limit of high surface area and volumetric microporosity. Daniel will tackle adsorption measurements and fundamental investigations of unusual adsorbed phases far from the realm of ideality. We are very lucky to have you guys and can't wait to get started - welcome to the team!
- Jan 1st 2018 Happy New Year
Our first year is over, and what a blast it has been! So far, we managed to build up a solid foundation in the laboratory for future work: we installed a Schlenk line and hydrogen torch for graphitic carbon synthesis, three furnaces, and a custom CVD apparatus. Commissioning of the CVD for templated carbon synthesis continues. Our 3-Flex hums along and the custom Sieverts apparatus is in the final stages of construction. Most importantly, we are in the process of preparing three manuscripts of which two are authored by undergraduates. Our hard work will be starting to pay off soon!
- Dec 7th 2017 Diboranerator
We'll be keeping our diborane supply fresh and very cold with the latest custom contraption: Devin's Diboranerator (or, better yet, Diboreezer). Step-by-step instructions for building your very own diboranerator available upon request!
- Nov 12th 2017 Undergraduate Research Is Humming
We welcome six new undergraduate researchers to the group this semester to carry on or start new projects in energy storage, materials chemistry, and adsorption modeling/theory. Kaitlin B., Seth, Serge, Dylan, Allen, and Kaitlin G. Welcome aboard!
- Oct 24th 2017 Buddha
Today we received and unpacked the main components of our next big project: a supercritical boron-doping apparatus (BDA, hereafter christened as "Buddha"). We are both excited and in awe at this monstrosity... What have we done!? We'll be adding pictures to the build gallery [here].
- Oct 11th 2017 Congrats Hans
We are excited to announce that Hans Swenson will be receiving funding from the [Undergraduate Scholars Program] for his work on measuring helium adsorption in porous carbons. Hans started in our group over the summer, building a thermostat for high-temperature experiments and learning how to measure nitrogen adsorption isotherms. Helium is a bit of a trickier guest... we look forward to seeing the results.
- Oct 6th 2017 Tschau Emanuel
We wish Emanuel all the best as he leaves Montana, first for warmer adventures down south, and then to return home and finish up his Master's thesis. During his stay, it is safe to say that he discovered a new class of binary P-C compounds with some pretty fascinating, still not fully clarified properties, which will be reported in a manuscript to be submitted shortly. We can also safely say: holy cow, that guy learned how to fly fish! Thank you for all the hard work and leadership you showed in our fledgling (now functioning) laboratory. Happy trails (and streams), we hope to see you again soon.
- Sep 12th 2017 The LPCVD is Online
We are now back in the templated carbon business! Our custom-designed, low-pressure CVD apparatus is fully operational, thanks in huge part to a hard summer's work by in-house trained, certified space plumber Michael Laase. Check out pictures of the build as it progressed [here]. Those are some fine pipe bends, Mike! We would be remiss to neglect the contributions by Andrew Wilson in the way of systems control, all wrapped up in a neat little Labview package - many thanks to both of you. Now, let the baking begin...
- Sep 1st 2017 Cheers Andrew
All good times must end. We were lucky to steal Andrew away from Oxfordshire for the summer, but alas, the real world calls him back to more fitting employment, using his powers for far greater projects than our humble laboratory here at MSU. And what a summer it has been! Thanks for all your hard work, Andrew, and we wish you all the best back home. The satisfying mechanical click of opening and closing valves will remind us of your witty mark on this group, long after you leave.
- Aug 20-24 2017 ACS Fall Meeting
Emanuel and Nick triumphantly returned from a full week of conferencing in the United States capital. We presented our latest work related to the direct (i.e., quick 'n easy) synthesis of boron- and phosphorus-doped graphitic carbon, and otherwise indulged in great food and conversation. Check out our abstracts [here] and [here].
- Aug 11th 2017 "See You Later" Aziz and Jack
We don't say goodbye, but rather "see you later" to Aziz and Jack as they head home after a very fruitful summer of research. Aziz learned to code in Python and developed a script for modeling adsorption isotherms and calculating the thermodynamic properties of the adsorbed phase. We are very excited to have a working tool for future experimental adsorption investigations at MSU, and even developed a new model along the way - we hope to report that model in a manuscript later this year. Jack successfully made graphene via the Scotch tape method and kicked off a new direction of research in our group with impressive and unexpected results. Thanks for being part of a very memorable summer guys!
- Jul 27th 2017 Lab Opening Party
We celebrated the hard work of everyone involved in setting up the new lab space by inviting the department to come by and take a look at our new toys (ahem, scientific instrumentation). By now, we are fully up and running in synthesis (thanks largely to Ryan, Emanuel, and Michael) and modeling capabilities (thanks Aziz!), Devin and Emanuel are cooking up lots of graphites, Julie and Jack are busy destroying them (the graphites), Hans is driving the 3-Flex daily, and Andrew already has the new CVD apparatus all rigged up for automated experiments. Keep up the awesome work! Check out our picture gallery [here].
- Jul 5th 2017 Howdy Andrew
Andrew Wilson, Labview and computer-speak extraordinaire, has joined us for two months to serve as the interpreter between human and machine in the new lab, as we barrel ahead with construction and commissioning of the CVD setup and the Sieverts apparatus (v3.0). Andrew finished his studies toward an MS in Physics at Cambridge in 2013, then served as a software engineer for several years, and has recently taken a permanent post as a software systems engineer at the Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire, UK. We are very lucky to have such a well-qualified scientist on hand to propel our new laboratory into operation!
- Jul 4th 2017 First (Annual?) Fourth Float
Devin and Emanuel successfully navigate the Madison into the Missouri, taking a well-earned lazy day off from the lab. Michael floats on his back somewhere out of frame... Happy Fourth of July!
- Jun 14th 2017 Summer Begins: Howdy Aziz, Hans, Jack, and Michael
We round out our summer research team by adding four undergraduate researchers, all with lots of energy to tackle projects and break new ground in topics related to energy storage materials made primarily of carbon. Aziz Fahad (Chem. Eng., 2018) is already well underway in developing some new code to calculate and analyze thermodynamic potentials from measured gas adsorption data, and is also known to cook an absolutely mean kebab. Hans Swenson (Chemistry, 2020), who also moonlights on the fiddle in a local bluegrass band, is interested in adsorption experiments and has now become the de facto MSU expert on micropore structure and high surface area characterization. Jack Buckner (Chemistry, Math, 2018) comes to us all the way from Carleton College for the summer, and spends his days ripping apart graphites into atomically thin graphenes; so far, Jack has shown to have a thundrous hand at bowling but we suspect he has many more tricks up his sleeve... Lastly, we are joined by Michael Laase (Geology, 2018), both a climber and a legitimate rock enthusiast, who has put his careful mind to the task of constructing and commissioning the two (!) new custom CVD apparatuses for templated carbon synthesis. Welcome aboard guys!
- Jun 6th 2017 Now In Technicolor
The latest syntheses have yielded a somewhat unexpected novelty: colour. More details to follow soon!
- May 15th 2017 Howdy Devin
Our group continues to grow as we are joined by Devin McGlamery, a pre-graduate student who will begin studies toward a Ph.D. in the fall and who brings a summer research fellowship to boot. Devin is focusing his current efforts on the synthesis of novel heteroatom-doped carbon materials and the effects of their reaction conditions on various high-temperature, corrosion-resistant alloys using electron microscopy. When the work bell rings, Devin heads to the nearby hills and can be seen soaring into the long summer evenings in his paraglider - perhaps the perfect place to reflect on a hard day's work in the lab.
- May 8th 2017 We're Cookin'
Research is ramping up as we get our synthetic efforts underway, starting with high temperature, closed-ampule reactions in the new chamber furnace. So far, so good! The project is still "top secret," but let's just say we are roaming around the periodic table and looking for creative solutions...
- Apr 14th 2017 Howdy Emanuel
Our group begins to form in earnest as we are joined by Emanuel Billeter (from ETH Zürich) who is undertaking his Masters thesis research here at Montana State University. Emanuel brings extensive experience in all manner of chemical synthesis techniques (most recently, in exploring [heteroatom-doped graphites]) and an impressive hand at foosball, and we look very forward to having him here for the next half-year.
- Mar 30th 2017 Good Luck Ryan
As quickly as he arrived, Ryan is off to bigger things: adventuring in Nepal and medical school, among others. We wish him all the best! The lab sure looks great and we count the following new functionalities to his hard work: an oxy-hydrogen torch and Schlenk line, a pristine, argon-loaded glovebox, all sorts of gas and vacuum manifold, and a fully-equipped workshop with a drill press and diamond buzz saw. We're going to miss you Ryan!
- Mar 11th 2017 Boron-Doped Graphitic Carbon
Manuscript accepted: we report an exciting new synthesis route to high boron-content graphitic carbon directly from two simple, cost-effective, liquid precursors (benzene and boron tribromide). The resulting material, which we refer to as BCx' (where x can be tuned between 3 and infinity) is more ordered and chemically homogeneous than any other bulk boron-doped carbon material prepared by a low-temperature route (<2000 degrees C). Check out the details [here].
- Mar 8th 2017 Group Meeting #0001
The first meeting of our small but growing group has been had! Ryan demonstrated the functionality of our nifty new Micromeritics 3-Flex adsorption apparatus, and discussed the first round of data collected in the lab. Lo and behold, Henry's Law has been verified (for nitrogen physisorption on porous silica at 295 K)!
- Feb 16th 2017 Howdy Ryan
Our first official group member, Ryan Dragoman joins us as a guest researcher on interim between Master's studies at ETH and bright futures elsewhere. The lab is shaping up in a hurry - great work!
- Feb 14th 2017 Spark Award Top 20
We have been notified that our European patent application entitled "Boron-Doped Graphitic Carbon" has received special mention as being in the top 20 inventions filed by ETH Zürich in 2016!
- Jan 30th 2017 ZTCs in Aluminum Batteries
Manuscript accepted: we report a new "aluminum battery" based on microporous zeolite-templated carbon (ZTC) as the cathode material, a unique demonstration of an intentionally high surface-area electrode material in a high energy density electrochemical cell. Check it out [here]. This work continues in our laboratory at MSU.
- Jan 11th 2017 First Proposal Submitted!
Well, that was a whirlwind of a first week! We sure started with a bang. An application for funding of Major Research Instrumentation for studies of high-pressure adsorption measurements has been submitted.
- Jan 6th 2017 Unpacking Mayhem
And we're off!
Furnaces, turbo pumps, a new torch, a glovebox, and an automated Sieverts from Micromeritics have arrived. It's like Christmas all over again.
So who wants to help unpack? ;)
- Jan 3rd 2017 Hello Bozeman
It's crisp, cold, and brilliantly sunny: classic Montana weather, perfect for the welcome "home." Now let's get started, we have a lot to do!