2010-2011: Donald R. Sadoway

Winegard Visiting Lectureship 2010

Donald R. Sadoway, EngSci 7T2, MMS MASc 7T3, PhD 7T7
John F. Elliot Professor of Materials Chemistry
Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

New Materials Engineering and the Path to Sustainability

Thursday, November 4, 2010 | 1:00 to 2:00pm | BA 1160

The road to sustainability is paved with advanced materials and materials processes. The importance of new materials engineering in sustainable development will be illustrated in three different settings: metals production by molten oxide electrolysis (MOE), which is the electrolytic decomposition of a metal oxide into molten metal and oxygen gas.

MOE represents an environmentally sound alternative to today’s carbon-intensive thermochemical metals reduction processes, e.g., iron making in the blast furnace and aluminium smelting in the Hall-Héroult cell, and can be used not only for primary metals production but also remediation of hazardous waste; stationary batteries for storage and delivery of off-peak power. Here the emphasis is on colossal current capability, e.g., 100s of kA with a footprint measuring 10s of metres, long service lifetime, and low cost. Such large format batteries are the key enabling technology for carbon-free intermittent electric power generation by wind and photovoltaics; and portable batteries powering electric vehicles. The focus here is to improve safety and reduce cost by replacing the volatile, flammable liquid presently used in lithium-ion batteries with a solid, polymer electrolyte that has the ionic conductivity of a liquid, the mechanical properties of a solid, and the formability of a commodity thermoplastic. This mix of properties has been achieved with a class of block polymers that exhibit local segregation, or “micro-phase separation”, into periodically-spaced nanoscopic domains. With such materials it should be possible to construct liquid-free, flexible, thin-film batteries possessing specific energy densities exceeding 300 Wh/kg at room temperature. Electrochemistry in nonaqueous media is the common intellectual thread connecting all three settings.

Reinvigorating Engineering Education by Innovation in the Core Science Subjects

Friday, November 5, 2010 | 1:00 to 2:00pm | GB 120

For almost 40 years, the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT has taught one of the subjects that satisfies the undergraduate chemistry requirement: 3.091 Introduction to Solid State Chemistry. This subject teaches basic principles of chemistry and shows how they apply in describing the behavior of the solid state. The relationship be­tween elec­tronic struc­ture, chemical bonding, and atomic arrangement is developed for crystalline and amorphous solids. En route students are introduced to the entire palette of engineering materials: metals, ceramics, semiconductors, and polymers (including biomolecules). Each lecture ends with a five-minute segment presenting a “real world” application of the subject matter. Examples are drawn from industrial practice (including the environmental impact of chemical processes), from energy generation and storage, e.g., solar cells and batteries, and from emerging technologies, e.g., nanotechnology and biomaterials. The content and style of this subject have broad appeal among students, especially those who have little interest in chemistry and who are not engaged by the traditional general chemistry offerings. In this seminar, Professor Sadoway will recount his personal experience as lecturer in charge of 3.091 for the past 15 years. He will touch upon curriculum development, teaching methods, technology in the classroom, web-based delivery of content, and the broader question of the involvement of engineering faculty in the teaching of core science subjects.