By Cameron Chai
A consortium led by University of Utah has received nearly $15 million grant from the Army Research Laboratory to design materials for lighter, energy-efficient batteries and devices using computer simulations.
Principal investigator of the project, Professor Martin Berzins from the University of Utah stated that the group will assist the Army to make developments in basic research to design advanced materials for the help of U.S. soldiers.
The University of Utah will get $4.2 million for research and administrative expenses from the five-year grant worth $14,898,000. The remaining amount will be used by the members of the University of Utah-led consortium, including the Polytechnic University of Turin, Italy, the University of California, Davis, Brown University, Harvard University, Pennsylvania State University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Boston University. The member universities will get in an additional $1.5 million, which will bring the total value of the five-year project to $16.4 million. The project may run for 10 years with more funding.
The basic idea of the project is to model the material behavior on various scales such as atomic, nano, and bulk using powerful computers to design lightweight, energy-efficient materials and power supplies. Upgrading existing materials is also one of the objectives of the project.
Berzins informed that presently, at least 35 lbs of batteries might be carried by a soldier for powering electronic weaponry, sophisticated protection systems, detection systems, and communication systems, which have an impact on the soldier’s lethality and survivability. Hence, developing energy-efficient devices and enhancing power and energy density of storage and delivery systems will result in better lethality and survivability of soldiers.
The consortium names itself as an Alliance for Computationally-Guided Design of Energy Efficient Electronic Materials. According to the Army, its funding is for multiscale multidisciplinary modeling of electronic materials.