REU

Brian Woodfield

Industrial problem: Improve zeolites and metal organic frameworks (MOF) for use in commercial catalyst applications. Together let’s use very low temperature calorimetry to understand materials!

See Dr. Woodfields full website here

Woodfield Lab Group

Research Interests

Teaching Interests

Chemical Thermodynamics

While commercial specific heat apparatuses using relaxation methods exist, our custom designed and built instruments are capable of accuracies and precisions approaching, and even exceeding, 0.1%. This type of accuracy and precision allows us to study a wide range of interesting and relevant topics in solid-state physics and chemical thermodynamics. Some of the topics we have studied in the past include (1) the thermodynamic stability of nuclear waste materials, (2) zeolites, (3) negative thermal expansion materials and low energy vibrational modes, (4) frustrated magnets, (5) iron oxides and oxyhydroxides, (6) uranium metal, and (7) neutron detector materials. Shown below is an example of our measurements on a bulk sample of MnO and a sample of the collosal magnetoresister La1-xSrxMnO3.

Currently, our primary research interest is in the Energetics of Nanomaterials, which is funded by the Department of Energy. Our focus in this research project is to understand the fundamental driving forces governing the stability of materials as their particle sizes reach the nanoscale. We have done extensive work on high quality samples of the TiO2 polymorphs of anatase and rutile with sizes of 7 nm and on the magnetic material CoO. More information can be found in our papers given in the publication list.

Synthesis of Nanoparticles 

Beginning several years ago, we have also created a Fisher Tropsch research focus in collaboration with the Catalysis Group in Chemical Engineering. We have applied our proprietary solvent deficient precipitation method to synthesize a series of industrial viable and state of the art alumina catalyst supports and Fe and Co Fisher Tropsch catalysts. These supports and catalysts have tunable properties and perform better than any catalysts currently reported in the literature. We continue to focus our work on innovating in the catalysis area using our proprietary solent deficient method.As part of our nanoscale project, we have recently developed an elegantly simple process that allows us to make a nearly unlimited array of well-defined inorganic nanoparticles that have controlled sizes from 1 nm to bulk. The particles are highly crystalline with well defined shapes (usually spherical but also rods), we can synthesize them with chemical and phase purities as high as 99.9999%, we can control the particle size distribution to approximately ±10%, we project with confidence that we can make industrial size quantities with manufacturing costs significantly less than any other current technique. The types of particles we can make are, in general, metal oxides, but the process allows us to control the oxidation state so we can make high, medium, and low oxidation state oxides and metals. We can make oxides of all of the transition metals, lanthanides, and actinides, AND any stoichiometric combination of any number of these metals. We can include group I and group II metals in combination with the transition metals. Consequently, we have the ability to make an almost innumerable array of nanomaterials (single metal and multi-metal) with well-controlled physical properties, purity, oxidation state, size and size distribution using a process that is fast, reliable, and inexpensive. Table 1 gives examples of some of the materials we have synthesized, and below are some representative TEM images for NiO, Y2O3, and CoO powders.

Fisher-Tropsch Catalysis

Project Director, Y Science Laboratories

The Y Science set of virtual lab simulations published by Pearson Education. For more information on Virtual ChemLab, Virtual Physics, Virtual Physical Science, and Virtual Biology please visit http://yscience.byu.edu