NSF Track 1: Center for Emergent Molecular Optoelectronics (CEMOs) (2018-2023)

Organic semiconductors (OSCs) are a class of materials that combine the electronic properties of semiconductors with the chemical and mechanical properties of organic compounds, such as polymers. OSCs have unique characteristics and offer fundamentally new approaches to harvest energy, making them increasingly interesting for a range of emerging technology applications, including sustainable energy, electronics and biomedicine. However, limitations in the ability to predict, synthesize and control OSCs and to understand the complexities of matter across a range of scales hamper their broad application. This project aims to overcome these barriers by generating the knowledge needed to extend the utility of OSCs into the infrared region (IR) and control electronic correlations in organic and hybrid systems. The research includes the development of new materials and systems that have unique electronic, and optical properties for present and future science and engineering challenges such as sustainable energy, electronics, and biomedicine. Applications include solar cell devices, hybrid electronics, bioimaging and biosensing. A new interdisciplinary material research Center for Emerging Molecular Optoelectronics (CEMOs) will be formed. Through this Center, the project will share resources and leverage partnerships among Mississippi institutions of higher learning, national laboratories, and industry as well as establish national and international collaborations to strengthen the research capacity and to build and train an inclusive workforce in optoelectronics.

Principal Investigator: David Shaw, Mississippi State University
Co-PIs: Sarah Morgan, University of Southern Mississippi
            Glake Hill, Jackson State University
            Jared Delcamp, University of Mississippi
            Jason Azoulay, University of Southern Mississippi

RII Track-2 FEC Projects

RII Track2- FEC: Feeding and Powering the World - Capturing Sunlight to Split Water and Generate Fertilizer and Fuels

This Research Infrastructure Improvement Track-2 Focused EPSCoR* Collaboration (RII Track-2 FEC) award to the University of Mississippi includes Mississippi State University, Tulane University, and the University of Alabama Tuscaloosa as partners in a collaborative project. The project?s research focus is at the nexus of water-energy-food. It aims to develop low-cost, high-efficient methods and devices that integrate water splitting by sunlight to produce hydrogen and to reduce carbon dioxide and ammonia to generate fuels and fertilizers. The research is highly desirable for developing sustainable fuel and synthetic fertilizer technologies. This collaborative project will directly engage and train seven faculty, five postdocs, nine graduate and 14 undergraduate students, eight faculty and 16 students from community colleges, as well as 60 secondary school teachers and 10 high school students from Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. The fundamental science focus of this project is anticipated to advance knowledge and technology in the water- energy-food nexus in the US gulf coast region and potentially connect with the private sector for future technology transfer and commercialization possibilities.

Lead Institution: The University of Mississippi
Partner Institutions: Mississippi State University (MSU), University of Alabama (UA), Tulane University

PIs: Nathan Hammer, University of Mississippi
Co-PIs: Keith Hollis (MSU), Edwin Webster (USM), Russ Schmel (Tulane), Jared Delcamp (UM), Shanlin Pan (UA)
States, MS, AL, LA


RII Track2- FEC: Emergent Polymer Sensing technologies for Gulf Coast Water Quality Monitoring

Ten researchers across six institutions in two states (MS, AL) will collaborate to develop advanced polymer-based, selective sensing technologies for detecting and analyzing pollutants in Gulf Coast aquatic ecosystems which represent a critical nexus of water-energy-food for the region and the nation, hosting important fisheries, aquaculture, trading ports, and off-shore oil exploration and production industries. The effort combines approaches from chemistry, biochemistry, geochemistry, marine science, computational science, polymer science, and engineering to develop portable, rapidly deployable polymer-based sensing technologies for detection of pollutants. Professional development and education efforts, including proposal writing workshops, seed funding opportunities, and team management strategies, will support and promote junior faculty. The project includes summer research programs for undergraduate and high school students to broadening participation.

Lead Institution: The University of Southern Mississippi (USM)
Partner Institutions: University of Mississippi (UM), University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa (UA)

PIs: Jason Azoulay, University of Southern Mississippi
Co-PIs: Alan Shiller (USM), Eugenia Kharlampieva (UAB), Marco Bonizzoni (UA), Jared Delcamp (UM)
States: MS, AL


RII Track-2 FEC: Collaborative Research and Education on Synergized Transformational Solar Chemical Looping and phot-Ultrasonic Renewable Biomass Refinery

Methods to convert biomass into energy involve burning in the presence of oxygen (combustion), reaction at high temperature with controlled amount of oxygen and /or steam (gasification), and decomposition at elevated temperature in the absence of oxygen (pyrolysis). This project focuses on biomass pyrolysis to produce fuels and biochar and then chemically modify biochar for use in applications related to carbon dioxide capture, water purification, and food production. The project is interdisciplinary and is a collaboration among four institutions (Jackson State University, University of Mississippi, University of Delaware, and the University of Wyoming) in three states. The project aims to diversify the workforce through partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) in the region, hiring and mentoring of early career faculty and postdoctoral fellows, and training of graduate and undergraduate students.

Lead Institution: Jackson State University (JSU)
Partner Institutions: University of Delaware (UD), University of Mississippi (UM), University of Wyoming (UW)

PIs: Jerzy Leszczynski (JSU)
Co-PIs: Chin-Pao Huang (UD), Paresh Ray (JSU), Wei-Yin Chen (UM), Maohong Fan (UW)
States: MS, DE, WY