Brown University Wins $6.25 Million MURI grant from Army Research Office

Brown and Cal State Northridge are teaming up on a $6.25 million Multi-University Research Initiative (MURI) grant from the Army Research Office (ARO) to study “Stress Controlled Catalysis via Engineering Nanostructures”. The five-year project will be led by principal investigator Bill Curtin, with collaborators Pradeep Guduru and Sharvan Kumar in the School of Engineering, Shouheng Sun in Chemistry and Engineering, and Gang Lu in Physics at Cal State Northridge. Four graduate students and six postdocs will join the faculty in executing the research.

Professor Bill Curtin '81
“This new award contributes to the growing portfolio of engineering research at Brown in the energy and nanosciences fields,” said Dean Larry Larson. “These new fields are changing the way we live in thousands of different ways. Congratulations to all the faculty, post-docs, staff and students involved in these successful efforts.”

The goal of the research is to demonstrate that macroscopic applied mechanical loading can be used to actively control and tune catalytic reactions through the use of innovative nanoscale material systems.

The challenge lies in obtaining stresses in the catalytic metal materials that are large enough to significantly influence the rates of selected chemical reactions in an overall catalytic process.

Associate Professor Pradeep Guduru
Professor Sharvan Kumar
Brown researchers will accomplish this by creating ultra-strong nanostructured materials in novel geometries where the mechanical load can be controlled and varied, also serving to isolate strain as the only experimental variable.

If the principle is demonstrated, then it may be possible to increase catalytic efficiencies by using time-varying stresses to actively control the reactions during operation, opening up the field of catalysis to an entirely new space of materials design.


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