Advanced Materials

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Fluid Interface Reactions, Structure and Transport


The overarching goal of the FIRST Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) is to address the fundamental gaps in our current understanding of interfacial systems of high importance to future energy technologies, including electrical energy storage (batteries, supercapacitors) and heterogeneous catalysis for solar energy and solar fuels production.

The FIRST Center will address three key questions:

  • How does the interfacial region differ in structure, dynamics and reactivity from the bulk properties of the fluid and solid phases?
  • How do these altered properties couple with complex interfacial textures and potential gradients (electrical and/or chemical) to influence chemical reactions, ionic and molecular transport and charge transfer within and across the interface?
  • How can we control and predict interfacial phenomena by informed design of fluid- and solid-phase components, interfacial geometries, field gradients and environmental parameters?

The interaction of fluids with solid substrates controls many chemical processes encountered in nature and industry. However, the atomic-nanoscale structures, reactivities and transport properties of the fluid-solid interface (FSI) are poorly understood for the vast majority of fluid-substrate combinations. The FIRST Center integrates novel synthesis, experimental and computational approaches to relate the nanoscale structures, dynamics and reactivities of fluid-solid interfaces. The ultimate goal is to provide predictive insights into the design, synthesis and function of the next generation of materials with superior performance to address our Nation’s Future Energy Needs.

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