News Release

NanoEngineering Professor Wins ONR Grant from U.S. Office of Naval Research to Study Materials Interfaces

San Diego, CA, March 23, 2016 -- Assistant Professor of Nanoengineering Shyue Ping Ong, a faculty member in the University of California, San Diego’s Sustainable Power and Energy Center, has been awarded a Young Investigator Award from the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR). The award will fund Ong’s work to develop new computational techniques for studying the reactions and properties of materials interfaces, or the area where two materials meet and interact.

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UC San Diego Assistant Professor of Nanoengineering Shyue Ping Ong is a member of the Sustainable Power and Energy Center (SPEC) at UC San Diego.

“Interfaces are the next frontier in materials design,” said Ong, who is an assistant professor of nanoengineering in the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. “By leveraging the power of supercomputers, we can accelerate our ability to gain insights and design materials interfaces for a wide range of applications. For example, we can create better batteries and solar cells or design structural alloys with radically improved strength.”

Ong noted that with many technologies, interfaces (rather than the materials themselves), govern the application-level performance. For instance, one of his areas of focus is the electrode-electrolyte interface in all-solid-state lithium-ion batteries.

Because an all-solid-state battery does not contain flammable organic solvents and can be stacked in a very efficient manner, it is inherently safer and more energy dense than today’s rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Such a technology is eminently suitable for applications requiring robust, portable energy, including powering equipment for soldiers and naval transport, as well as consumer electronics and electric vehicles. More importantly, the techniques developed would revolutionize researchers’ ability to design and engineer interfaces precisely for targeted applications, “opening up an entirely new dimension to computational materials design,” said Ong.

Ong’s research is part of a larger effort by the UC San Diego Sustainable Power and Energy Center (SPEC) to solve key technical challenges in distributed energy generation, storage and management.  The researchers at SPEC discover and develop higher-performance and lower-cost materials and devices target industries including electric vehicles, microgrids, photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, wearable power devices, and more. UC San Diego’s world-renowned microgrid serves as a real-world test-bed for Ong and other researchers at SPEC.

Ong was one of 47 researchers to win the award from the ONR, which invests in research with applications in naval science and technology (researchers from UC San Diego received three such awards – the most of any other university represented). Ong will be awarded a total of $170,000 over three years for his work, dubbed “Hierarchical First Principles Methods for the Design of Heterogeneous Solid-Solid Interfaces.”

Story written by Tiffany Fox from the Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego. 

Media Contacts

Daniel Kane
Jacobs School of Engineering

Ioana Patringenaru
Jacobs School of Engineering