CCI Phase 1: NSF Center for the Mechanical Control of Chemistry
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The NSF Center for the Mechanical Control of Chemistry (CMCC) is supported by the Centers for Chemical Innovation (CCI) Program of the Division of Chemistry. This Phase I Center is led by James Batteas of Texas A&M University. Other team members include Jonathan Felts, also from Texas A&M University, Adam Braunschweig of the City University New York-Advanced Science Research Center, Robert Carpick and Andrew Rappe of the University of Pennsylvania, Danna Freedman of Northwestern University, and Ashlie Martini of the University of California - Merced. The effects of light, electric potential, and heat on chemical reactions are reasonably well studied. Chemists use these to control chemical reactivity and to direct reactions toward desired products. Though less well understood, and less studied, mechanical force can also influence chemical reactions, as compression and shear forces can be used to drive chemistry. To harness this, the CMCC will develop quantitative models for mechanochemical reactions that can be applied to industrial scale processes, by combining new reactors, measurement tools, and theories, to enable the understanding of mechanochemical effects on chemical bond making and breaking, across multiple length scales (atomic, meso, macro). The broader impacts of this work include the prospect of a new perspective on chemical reactivity, with the potential to enable new technologies such as solvent-free chemical processing and new non-traditional mechanically-promoted synthetic pathways. Undergraduate researchers will join graduate students in the center activities. High school students will participate in a mechanochemistry-themed STEM summer camp. Broad engagement of students in STEM will include the recruitment of military veterans, women, and students from traditionally underrepresented groups. Student lab exchanges and entrepreneurship activities enhance the student experience, while contributing to the innovation potential of the center. Technology transfer strategies and training in public policy are in place to ensure the promotion of the innovative science developed by CMCC members. Science history exhibits and a youth adventure camp on mechanochemistry round out the informal science communications plans. The CMCC sets out to establish a broad and fundamental understanding of how mechanical forces can be used to alter chemical reaction rates and pathways at surfaces and interfaces.........