Two CEM Faculty Receive Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award

Prof. Jessica Winter, CEM’s Associate Director and member of IRG-2, and Prof. Rolando Valdes Aguilar, an IRG-1 faculty member and CEM’s Summer REU Director, received the 2020 Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award from Ohio State’s Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry. This award was created to honor individuals who have demonstrated success in mentoring undergraduates in their research and/or creative inquiry endeavors.

Created only a couple of years ago, the Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award relies on nominations from undergraduate students at any Ohio Sate campus. Prof. Winter was nominated for the award by Thomas Porter and Prof. Valdes Aguilar was nominated for the award by Elijah Kritzell. More information about these awards can be found on the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Physics websites.

Robert Baker Wins Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award

CEM member Robert Baker, associate professor in Ohio State University’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was named one of 14 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholars for 2020.

The Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program supports the research and teaching careers of talented young faculty in the chemical sciences. Based on institutional nominations, the program provides an unrestricted research grant of $100,000 to faculty within the first five years of their careers. To be selected, a faculty member must have created an outstanding body of scholarship and a demonstrated commitment to education.

Robert Baker will be using this award to fund his “Visualizing Charge and Spin Dynamics at Interfaces” project. He is the fifteenth Ohio State University faculty member to win the award since the program’s inception in 1970.

Tiny magnetic particles enable new material to bend, twist and grab

A CEM-supported research team from The Ohio State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a material system that can transform into different shapes through the application of magnetic fields.

The new material, called magnetic shape memory polymers, has the potential to enable a wide range of applications, from biomedical devices to soft robotics. The novel magnetic shape memory polymer composite enables tunable rigidity and has multiple shape manipulation capabilities.

The discovery was reported in the most recent issue of Advanced Materials.

“The new functional soft material enables the development of new advanced material systems that could potentially revolutionize multifunctional robots and machines,” said Renee Zhao, an assistant professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE). Zhao served as co-principal investigator with H. Jerry Qi, professor of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech.

The new materials integrates fast reversible and reprogrammable actuation, shape locking, and untethered operation for applications in soft robotics, actuators with large gripping force, morphing structures, deformable electronics, especially for designing active and adaptive guidewires, catheters, and stents that could potentially enable the next generation of biomedical devices for minimally invasive operations.

The material is novel in that it achieves multiple shape manipulations in a single material system.

“One of the big challenges in the soft active materials field is how to integrate various shape manipulations into one material system for multifunctional purposes, as many such manipulations are contradictory to each other,” Zhao said. “For example, fast reversible shape change requires that the material can respond to external stimulus rapidly, but shape locking needs the material to have no response or needs to maintain the external stimulus, which requires a constant energy input.”

The magnetic shape memory polymer composite is comprised of an amorphous shape memory polymer matrix of two types of magnetic particles. Researchers were able to soften the matrix and make it pliable by applying a high-frequency, oscillating magnetic field to heat the iron oxide particles and raise the temperature of the actuated shape. Applying a second magnetic field caused rapid and reversible shape change under actuation magnetic fields. Once the shape memory polymers cooled, the shape locked in position.

In a locked state, the strength of the material allowed an actuated gripper to lift up to 1,000 times its own weight. On top of this, the material is adaptive to extreme conditions, allowing application for an array of uses, Zhao said.

“The degree of freedom is limited in conventional robotics,” she said. “With soft materials, that degree of freedom is unlimited.”

Other Ohio State investigators included MAE postdoc Qiji Ze, MAE students Shuai Wu and Rundong Zhang, as well as CEM faculty member Fengyuan Yang, professor of Physics and director of the Center for Exploration of Novel Complex Materials.

The research was supported by Ohio State’s Materials Research Seed Grant Program, funded by the Center for Emergent Materials, an NSF-MRSEC; the Center for Exploration of Novel Complex Materials; and the Institute for Materials Research. Research was also supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), with an award to Ohio State through NSF’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers.

Cross-IRG Research Published in Physical Review Letters

This week, CEM members from all three IRG’s had a joint paper published in Physical Review Letters‘ first issue of 2020. The paper, titled “Fundamental Spin Interactions Underlying the Magnetic Anisotropy in the Kitaev Ferromagnet CrI3“, was co-authored by IRG-1 co-lead Prof. Nandini Trivedi, IRG-2 co-lead Prof. Joshua Goldberger, and Director and IRG-3 member Prof. Chris Hammel, as well as several CEM grad students. Funded primarily by CEM, the researchers also collaborated with scientists at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and the Korea Institute for Advanced Study. The paper can be read on the Physical Review Letters website

2020 OSU Materials Research Seed Grant Program Request for Proposals

We are pleased to announce the 2020 OSU Materials Research Seed Grant Program Request for Proposals (RFP). This enhanced seed program leverages resources and best practices of the Center for Emergent Materials (CEM), the Center for Exploration of Novel Complex Materials (ENCOMM), and the Institute for Materials Research (IMR).

The three Funding Tiers of the OSU Materials Research Seed Grant Program are:

Multidisciplinary Team Building Grants
MTBG Grants provide funds up to $60,000/year per award in direct costs, and require one PI and one Co-PI, and may have unfunded collaborators, with the goal of forming multidisciplinary materials research teams that can compete effectively for federal block-funding opportunities, such as the NSF MRSEC program.

Exploratory Materials Research Grants
EMRG provide funds up to $40,000/year per award in direct costs, and require one PI, and may have Co-PIs and/or unfunded collaborators, with the goal of enabling nascent and innovative materials research to emerge to the point of being competitive for external funding.

Interdisciplinary Research Groups
IRG grant proposals are not being requested in this 2020 RFP. The Center for Emergent Materials (CEM): A National Science Foundation funded Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) is currently undergoing a renewal review.

Key Dates:

  • Request for Proposals Issued: Wednesday, October 16, 2019
  • MRSGP Open House: Wednesday, November 13, 2019 (3:00pm-5:00pm, IMR Innovation Laboratory, 1381 Kinnear Road, Room 218)
  • Letters of Intent Due: Friday, December 6, 2019 at 5:00 PM
  • Notice of MRSGP Appropriateness: Friday, January 10, 2019
  • Multidisciplinary Team Building Grants Tier – Mandatory Team Proposal Presentations: January 22, 29, and February 5, 2020 (4:15-5:15 PM, Physics Research Building, Room 4138)
  • Proposals Due (All Funding Tiers): Monday, March 2, 2020 at 5:00 PM
  • Awards Announced (anticipated): June 2020
  • Funded Projects Start Date (anticipated): Beginning of Autumn Semester, 2020

Have a question? Please contact IMR Grants Developer Joanna Gardner at or visit our MRSGP webpage.