Posted: February 10, 2010

Nanotechnology and particle physics researchers awarded DOE early career grants

(Nanowerk News) Two Purdue University researchers are among 69 chosen nationwide by the U.S. Department of Energy to receive awards through the DOE's new Early Career Research Program.
Jean Paul Allain, an assistant professor of nuclear engineering, and Denes Molnar, an assistant professor of physics, received the awards under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Allain's research funded through the grant involves harnessing nanotechnology concepts to bring about new "plasma-facing" materials for use in advanced thermonuclear fusion devices. The work is part of a global effort to develop advanced nuclear fusion power plants. The multidisciplinary research will enable new designs tolerant to radiation damage.
Molnar's research involves determining the properties of a new state of matter called quark-gluon plasma that occurs at extreme temperatures and densities, such as those that existed shortly after the creation of the universe. In this state, the constituents of matter break down to their most fundamental building blocks - quarks and gluons. This "quark soup" can only be recreated in the lab by crashing heavy nuclei together, and Molnar's work also will advance the understanding of the dynamics of such collisions.
DOE Secretary Steven Chu recently announced recipients from across the nation will receive about $85 million in total funding for five-year research grants.
Under the program, university-based researchers will receive at least $150,000 per year to cover summer salary and research expenses. Awards were given in advanced scientific computing research, basic energy sciences, biological and environmental research, fusion energy sciences, high-energy physics, and nuclear physics.
Awardees were selected from a pool of 1,750 university- and national laboratory-based applicants. Selection was based on peer review by outside scientific experts.
Source: Purdue University