Pitt | Swanson Engineering
Air Force Provides More Than $300K to Accelerate Materials Research at Pitt
Susan Fullerton (left) and Jennifer Laaser received $313,000 from the U.S. Air Force for a broadband dielectric spectrometer through the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program.

PITTSBURGH (Jan 22, 2021) — The U.S. Air Force will provide $313,000 to the University of Pittsburgh for a broadband dielectric spectrometer through the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP). The acquisition was made by a five-faculty team led by Jennifer Laaser, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, and includes Susan Fullerton, Associate Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering.

The new instrument, a Novocontrol Concept 80, will be used to measure the conductivity and dielectric properties of soft materials, which will help faculty at Pitt and surrounding universities conduct research ranging from ion gel materials for carbon capture to new materials for computing. 

“These types of soft materials are a rapidly growing research area at Pitt, and we are thrilled that the Air Force has decided to help us build up our characterization capabilities by funding our purchase of this instrument,” said Laaser.

DURIP supports university researchers with the tools to perform cutting-edge research relevant to the Department of Defense. These research programs are supported by more than $1.9 of active grants from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Science Foundation. 

At Pitt, the instrument will support the investigations of doubly-polymerized ionic liquids (Jennifer Laaser), ion dynamics in ion gels for carbon capture (Sean Garrett-Roe), electroadhesive ionomers (Tara Meyer), new materials for efficient conversion of mechanical and electrical energy (Geoffrey Hutchison), and ionomers for low-power computing (Susan Fullerton).  

“This instrument fills a huge gap in our ability to characterize the dielectric properties of the materials we use in our device research,” explained Fullerton. “We focus on new materials and approaches for low-power electronics, and the equipment provided by the DURIP will significantly accelerate our progress.”

Maggie Pavlick, 1/22/2021

Contact: Maggie Pavlick