2020 NDnano Seed Grants

Six faculty members from the University of Notre Dame’s College of Engineering and College of Science were awarded grants through the Notre Dame Nanoscience and Technology (NDnano) 2020 Seed Grant Program.

"NDnano is proud to be able to support collaborative research that builds on Notre Dame strengths to make advancements in cerebral imaging and improved understanding of membranes," said Derek Lake, associate director of NDnano. "We look forward to the new ideas that will be unlocked with these research programs."

The 2020 Seed Grant recipients are:

Anthony Hoffman
Joshua Koen
Thomas O'Sullivan

Principal investigators: Thomas O'Sullivan, Electrical Engineering, Joshua Koen, Psychology, and Anthony Hoffman, Electrical Engineering.

Project: "High-sensitivity diffuse correlation spectroscopy"

Abstract: This project aims to develop a method for imaging cerebral blood flow (CBF) that will allow neuroscientists and neurologists to more clearly understand the complex link between neural activity and CBF. The work addresses current deficiencies in optical-based diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS): constrained imaging capabilities, reduced spatial and temporal resolution, limited signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and depth penetration, and increased system footprint and cost. The team's approach is to leverage engineered optical materials to enable improved performance and reduced size and costs.


Jon Camden
William Phillip
Casey O'Brien

Principal investigators: Casey O'Brien, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, William Phillip, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, and Jon Camden, Chemistry & Biochemistry.

Project: "Development of an operando spectroscopic tool for studying the structure and dynamics of membranes in complex environments"

Abstract: Society depends on chemical separations for clean water, chemicals, medicines, fuels, and food. Most industrial chemical separations are performed using thermal techniques that consume about 10-15% of the world’s energy. Advanced membrane technologies that can efficiently separate chemicals could reduce the energy intensity of chemical separations by ~90%. Although membranes have great potential to reduce the energy intensity of chemical separations, development of high-performance membranes is hindered by the limited understanding of the fundamental molecular- and nano-scale processes that determine membrane performance, and changes in membrane performance over time, especially in complex environments. To address this knowledge gap, this seed grant will be used to design, develop, and test a new experimental operando spectroscopic tool that will probe the chemical structure and dynamics of membranes in complex environments.