Shoemaker receives DOE Early Career Research award
Daniel Shoemaker, an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has been chosen to receive a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Early Career Research Program grant for his research proposal, “In Situ Thermodynamics and Kinetics of Mixed-Valence Inorganic Crystal Formation.”
“As materials scientists, we seek to discover new materials and engineer their function by altering their atomic structure,” he added. “Each new material is a platform for creating a new technology: perhaps a battery electrode, a new solar absorbing material, a new structural alloy, or other useful component. This project explores the synthesis reactions where new dense materials are first nucleated and formed. We can watch the atomic arrangements in real time using a special furnace that has ports for X-rays to pass through small, dense mixtures of elements about the size of a grain of rice, while heating them up to 1000 degrees Celsius.
“Combining the X-ray techniques with measurements of heat flow (calorimetry) helps to unravel the thermodynamic and kinetic details in these reactions. These results are integrated into a database that helps us understand how to access materials that we predict from computational algorithms. We can also assess how far one material can be altered (engineered) from its starting point.
Shoemaker earned his bachelor’s degree with honors in materials science and engineering from the University of Illinois, and his PhD in materials from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2011 he began a postdoctoral appointment in the Materials Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory where he investigated the synthesis of superconductors and semiconductors with a focus on in situ spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction. Shoemaker joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Illinois in August 2013.