Cornell partners in $10M clean energy research center

Cornell University is partnering in a new $10.35 million research center focused on splitting hydrogen and oxygen from water to produce clean hydrogen for energy use.

The Center for Electrochemical Dynamics and Reactions on Surfaces (CEDARS) was announced Aug. 29 by North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, which is leading the center. CEDARS is funded by a four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Frontier Research Centers program.

For its role, Cornell will provide state-of-the-art facilities and expertise in materials synthesis. Facilities such as the Cornell Center for Materials Research and the Platform for the Accelerated Realization, Analysis, and Discovery of Interface Materials offer CEDARS the ability to grow high-quality materials for fundamental studies in catalysis and clean hydrogen production.

“We are excited to be part of this collaboration to advance research infrastructure of clean hydrogen materials and technologies,” said Jin Suntivich, a CEDARS co-thrust leader and associate professor of materials science and engineering at Cornell. He added that Cornell is especially proud to be partnered with N.C. A&T, which is the first historically Black college or university to be awarded a Frontier Research Center.

“Creating sustainable energy sources is one of the grand challenges of our time, and solutions require intellectual power from a diverse array of communities,” Suntivich said. “This center will help to broaden the pipeline of young scientists entering and flourishing in the fields of materials science and clean energy.”

CEDARS has roots in an earlier collaboration between N.C. A&T and the Cornell Center for Materials Research, which announced in 2021 a Partnerships for Research in Education and Materials program aimed at supporting scientific discoveries while solidifying a pathway for students from underrepresented groups to enter the field of materials science and engineering. Cornell hopes CEDARS will build upon the research collaborations and exchange programs cultivated under the original partnership.

Darrell Schlom, the Herbert Fisk Johnson Professor of Industrial Chemistry in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, said he looks forward to working with the students from N.C. A&T on this research collaboration, particularly their involvement in synthesizing customized materials with atomic-layer control for an improved fundamental understanding of catalysis and clean hydrogen production.

“N.C. A&T has a stellar engineering program,” Schlom said, “and we hope CEDARS will not only introduce materials science to a new generation of students, but also help acquaint Cornell to prospective graduate and postdoctoral researchers.”

Other institutions partnered in CEDARS include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Penn State, Colorado University at Boulder, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Pictured above: Schuyler Shi, a Cornell doctoral student, and Vanessa Jones, an undergraduate at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, working at a transmission electron microscope in Clark Hall. Credit: Dave Burbank.

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