Grant given to research team aids in research on transition metal oxides

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The National Science Foundation awarded an estimated $3 million Materials Interdisciplinary Research Team grant to a team at the Texas Materials Institute, a collaborative institute between the Cockrell School of Engineering and the College of Natural Sciences.

“This is a very competitive and prestigious grant,” said Arumugam Manthiram, TMI director and mechanical engineering professor. “Only three proposals were funded out of 88, so we were thrilled to know that we were selected to get this grant.”

The grant brings together six professors within the engineering and physics departments, as well as a professor from the University of Virginia.

“The grant is focused on transition metal oxides, and these transitional metal oxides find a lot of technological use ranging from electronics to energy applications,” Manthiram said. “For example, materials for rechargeable batteries, high energy density, batteries fuel cells and electronic devices.”

The goal is to do fundamental research on these transition metal oxides said John Goodenough, engineering professor involved in the study. He said with this research they plan to address several fundamental issues in solid-state science.

“One is the nature of the transition from localized to itinerate electronic behavior of electrons,” Goodenough said. “At this transition, one has a number of unusual physical properties associated with dynamic phase segregation. To date, there is no accepted theoretical formulation of this problem which gives rise to such phenomenon as high temperature superconductivity in the copper oxides.”

The study seeks to find a fundamental and basic understanding of these materials that can enable the development of newer technologies.

“Of course when you do fundamental research, to answer one problem often only leads to several new ones, but we hope to solve some basic problems associated with the design of technical materials,” Goodenough said.

Printed on September 13, 2011 as: UT researchers receive grant to study transitional metal oxides: Research findings will help foster energy applications, provide solid-state solutions