University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Seminar: Michael Strano, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "Manipulating mass and energy using carbon nanotechnology"


Tuesday, December 8, 2015 - 11:30am


LGRT 201



Our laboratory has been interested in how 1D and 2D electronic materials such as carbon nanotubes and graphene, respectively, can be utilized to illustrate new concepts in molecular transport and energy transfer.   My talk will highlight recent efforts in my laboratory with three examples.  In the first example, we note that there are pressing needs for renewable energy sources that are not limited by intermittency, and capable of persistent and continuous operation over extended periods.  I identify ambient thermal fluctuations of various frequencies as abundant, ubiquitous sources of such energy.  I will present a theory for, and demonstrate experimental examples of, thermal resonance devices capable of this energy capture of ambient thermal fluctuations from the outdoor diurnal cycle (10 μHz), fluctuations surrounding an active human body (10 mHz), and laptop computers (50 mHz).  Theory and experiment demonstrate that the resonant window for such devices can be broadband up to 1000 mHz, allowing robust ambient energy harvesting from multiple sources.  I will also highlight our progress in creating portable, chemical-to-electrical energy generation devices based on thermopower waves, or self propagating reactivity waves guided along an electrically conductive conduit.  I will describe the theory of Excess Thermopower developed in my laboratory that describes this phenomenon, and highlight the progress made in developing sources greater than 1% efficient for the first time, powering commercial electronics.  In the second system, I will discuss the interface between plant organelles and non-biological nanostructures and its potential to impart organelles with new and enhanced functions. Our laboratory at MIT has developed an array of new techniques that can infuse and localize nanoparticles of various types into living plants including specific plant organelles, for the first time, enabling new functions.  We employ this so-called plant nanobionics to create chemically sensing plants, chemoprotected versions and enhanced natural photosynthesis using nanoparticle photoabsorbers.  Progress towards IR communicating plans, and self powered photonic devices will be discussed.  Lastly, as a third example, I will discuss a new technique that we created for realizing molecular recognition at a nanoparticle interface.  CoPhMoRe or Corona Phase Molecular Recognition is a technique that uses specifically synthesized heteropolymers and their complex arrangement onto a nanoparticle surface to generate a unique molecular recognition site for small molecules such as estradiol, dopamine and riboflavin as well as large molecules such as fibrinogen and insulin.  CoPhMoRe is being used in my lab to advance a new type of biologically sensing tattoo that can be placed subcutaneously to measure analytes of interest for biomedical monitoring, such as insulin, glucose and cortisol.  These three systems highlight the versatile nature of nanocarbon in illustrating new concepts for energy and mass manipulation and a variety of novel applications.