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Electrospinning of bioactive dex-PAA hydrogel fibers

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In this work, a novel method is developed for making nano- and micro- fibrous hydrogels capable of preventing the rejection of implanted materials. This is achieved by either (1) mimicking the native cellular environment, to exert fine control over the

In this work, a novel method is developed for making nano- and micro- fibrous hydrogels capable of preventing the rejection of implanted materials. This is achieved by either (1) mimicking the native cellular environment, to exert fine control over the cellular response or (2) acting as a protective barrier, to camouflage the foreign nature of a material and evade recognition by the immune system. Comprehensive characterization and in vitro studies described here provide a foundation for developing substrates for use in clinical applications. Hydrogel dextran and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) fibers are formed via electrospinning, in sizes ranging from nanometers to microns in diameter. While "as-electrospun" fibers are continuous in length, sonication is used to fragment fibers into short fiber "bristles" and generate nano- and micro- fibrous surface coatings over a wide range of topographies. Dex-PAA fibrous surfaces are chemically modified, and then optimized and characterized for non-fouling and ECM-mimetic properties. The non-fouling nature of fibers is verified, and cell culture studies show differential responses dependent upon chemical, topographical and mechanical properties. Dex-PAA fibers are advantageously unique in that (1) a fine degree of control is possible over three significant parameters critical for modifying cellular response: topography, chemistry and mechanical properties, over a range emulating that of native cellular environments, (2) the innate nature of the material is non-fouling, providing an inert background for adding back specific bioactive functionality, and (3) the fibers can be applied as a surface coating or comprise the scaffold itself. This is the first reported work of dex-PAA hydrogel fibers formed via electrospinning and thermal cross-linking, and unique to this method, no toxic solvents or cross-linking agents are needed to create hydrogels or for surface attachment. This is also the first reported work of using sonication to fragment electrospun hydrogel fibers, and in which surface coatings were made via simple electrostatic interaction and dehydration. These versatile features enable fibrous surface coatings to be applied to virtually any material. Results of this research broadly impact the design of biomaterials which contact cells in the body by directing the consequent cell-material interaction.

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2011

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Synthesis and characterization of ordered mesoporous silica with controlled macroscopic morphology for membrane applications

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Ordered mesoporous materials have tunable pore sizes between 2 and 50 nm and are characterized by ordered pore structures and high surface areas (~1000 m2/g). This makes them particularly favorable for a number of membrane applications such as protein separation,

Ordered mesoporous materials have tunable pore sizes between 2 and 50 nm and are characterized by ordered pore structures and high surface areas (~1000 m2/g). This makes them particularly favorable for a number of membrane applications such as protein separation, polymer extrusion, nanowire fabrication and membrane reactors. These membranes can be fabricated as top-layers on macroporous supports or as embedded membranes in a dense matrix. The first part of the work deals with the hydrothermal synthesis and water-vapor/oxygen separation properties of supported MCM-48 and a new Al-MCM-48 type membrane for potential use in air conditioning systems. Knudsen-type permeation is observed in these membranes. The combined effect of capillary condensation and the aluminosilicate matrix resulted in the highest separation factor (142) in Al-MCM-48 membranes, with a water vapor permeance of 6×10-8mol/m2Pas. The second part focuses on synthesis of embedded mesoporous silica membranes with helically ordered pores by a novel Counter Diffusion Self-Assembly (CDSA) method. This method is an extension of the interfacial synthesis method for fiber synthesis using tetrabutylorthosilicate (TBOS) and cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) as the silica source and surfactant respectively. The initial part of this study determined the effect of TBOS height and humidity on fiber formation. From this study, the range of TBOS heights for best microscopic and macroscopic ordering were established. Next, the CDSA method was used to successfully synthesize membranes, which were characterized to have good support plugging and an ordered pore structure. Factors that influence membrane synthesis and plug microstructure were determined. SEM studies revealed the presence of gaps between the plugs and support pores, which occur due to shrinking of the plug on drying. Development of a novel liquid deposition method to seal these defects constituted the last part of this work. Post sealing, excess silica was removed by etching with hydrofluoric acid. Membrane quality was evaluated at each step using SEM and gas permeation measurements. After surfactant removal by liquid extraction, the membranes exhibited an O2 permeance of 1.65x10-6mol/m2.Pa.s and He/O2 selectivity of 3.30. The successful synthesis of this membrane is an exciting new development in the area of ordered mesoporous membrane technology.

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2011

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Growth of gaN nanowires: a study using in situ transmission electron microscopy

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Owing to their special characteristics, group III-Nitride semiconductors have attracted special attention for their application in a wide range of optoelectronic devices. Of particular interest are their direct and wide band gaps that span from ultraviolet to the infrared wavelengths.

Owing to their special characteristics, group III-Nitride semiconductors have attracted special attention for their application in a wide range of optoelectronic devices. Of particular interest are their direct and wide band gaps that span from ultraviolet to the infrared wavelengths. In addition, their stronger bonds relative to the other compound semiconductors makes them thermally more stable, which provides devices with longer life time. However, the lattice mismatch between these semiconductors and their substrates cause the as-grown films to have high dislocation densities, reducing the life time of devices that contain these materials. One possible solution for this problem is to substitute single crystal semiconductor nanowires for epitaxial films. Due to their dimensionality, semiconductor nanowires typically have stress-free surfaces and better physical properties. In order to employ semiconductor nanowires as building blocks for nanoscale devices, a precise control of the nanowires' crystallinity, morphology, and chemistry is necessary. This control can be achieved by first developing a deeper understanding of the processes involved in the synthesis of nanowires, and then by determining the effects of temperature and pressure on their growth. This dissertation focuses on understanding of the growth processes involved in the formation of GaN nanowires. Nucleation and growth events were observed in situ and controlled in real-time using an environmental transmission electron microscope. These observations provide a satisfactory elucidation of the underlying growth mechanism during the formation of GaN nanowires. Nucleation of these nanowires appears to follow the vapor-liquid-solid mechanism. However, nanowire growth is found to follow both the vapor-liquid-solid and vapor-solid-solid mechanisms. Direct evidence of the effects of III/V ratio on nanowire growth is also reported, which provides important information for tailoring the synthesis of GaN nanowires. These findings suggest in situ electron microscopy is a powerful tool to understand the growth of GaN nanowires and also that these experimental approach can be extended to study other binary semiconductor compound such as GaP, GaAs, and InP, or even ternary compounds such as InGaN. However, further experimental work is required to fully elucidate the kinetic effects on the growth process. A better control of the growth parameters is also recommended.

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2010

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Optimization of ionic conductivity in doped ceria using density functional theory and kinetic lattice Monte Carlo

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Fuel cells, particularly solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), are important for the future of greener and more efficient energy sources. Although SOFCs have been in existence for over fifty years, they have not been deployed extensively because they need to

Fuel cells, particularly solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), are important for the future of greener and more efficient energy sources. Although SOFCs have been in existence for over fifty years, they have not been deployed extensively because they need to be operated at a high temperature (∼1000 °C), are expensive, and have slow response to changes in energy demands. One important need for commercialization of SOFCs is a lowering of their operating temperature, which requires an electrolyte that can operate at lower temperatures. Doped ceria is one such candidate. For this dissertation work I have studied different types of doped ceria to understand the mechanism of oxygen vacancy diffusion through the bulk. Doped ceria is important because they have high ionic conductivities thus making them attractive candidates for the electrolytes of solid oxide fuel cells. In particular, I have studied how the ionic conductivities are improved in these doped materials by studying the oxygen-vacancy formations and migrations. In this dissertation I describe the application of density functional theory (DFT) and Kinetic Lattice Monte Carlo (KLMC) simulations to calculate the vacancy diffusion and ionic conductivities in doped ceria. The dopants used are praseodymium (Pr), gadolinium (Gd), and neodymium (Nd), all belonging to the lanthanide series. The activation energies for vacancy migration between different nearest neighbor (relative to the dopant) positions were calculated using the commercial DFT code VASP (Vienna Ab-initio Simulation Package). These activation energies were then used as inputs to the KLMC code that I co-developed. The KLMC code was run for different temperatures (673 K to 1073 K) and for different dopant concentrations (0 to 40%). These simulations have resulted in the prediction of dopant concentrations for maximum ionic conductivity at a given temperature.

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2011

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Growth, characterization, and thermodynamics of III-nitride semiconductors

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III-nitride alloys are wide band gap semiconductors with a broad range of applications in optoelectronic devices such as light emitting diodes and laser diodes. Indium gallium nitride light emitting diodes have been successfully produced over the past decade. But the

III-nitride alloys are wide band gap semiconductors with a broad range of applications in optoelectronic devices such as light emitting diodes and laser diodes. Indium gallium nitride light emitting diodes have been successfully produced over the past decade. But the progress of green emission light emitting devices has been limited by the incorporation of indium in the alloy, mainly due to phase separation. This difficulty could be addressed by studying the growth and thermodynamics of these alloys. Knowledge of thermodynamic phase stabilities and of pressure - temperature - composition phase diagrams is important for an understanding of the boundary conditions of a variety of growth techniques. In this dissertation a study of the phase separation of indium gallium nitride is conducted using a regular solution model of the ternary alloy system. Graphs of Gibbs free energy of mixing were produced for a range of temperatures. Binodal and spinodal decomposition curves show the stable and unstable regions of the alloy in equilibrium. The growth of gallium nitride and indium gallium nitride was attempted by the reaction of molten gallium - indium alloy with ammonia at atmospheric pressure. Characterization by X-ray diffraction, photoluminescence, and secondary electron microscopy show that the samples produced by this method contain only gallium nitride in the hexagonal phase. The instability of indium nitride at the temperatures required for activation of ammonia accounts for these results. The photoluminescence spectra show a correlation between the intensity of a broad green emission, related to native defects, and indium composition used in the molten alloy. A different growth method was used to grow two columnar-structured gallium nitride films using ammonium chloride and gallium as reactants and nitrogen and ammonia as carrier gasses. Investigation by X-ray diffraction and spatially-resolved cathodoluminescence shows the film grown at higher temperature to be primarily hexagonal with small quantities of cubic crystallites, while the one grown at lower temperature to be pure hexagonal. This was also confirmed by low temperature photoluminescence measurements. The results presented here show that cubic and hexagonal crystallites can coexist, with the cubic phase having a much sharper and stronger luminescence. Controlled growth of the cubic phase GaN crystallites can be of use for high efficiency light detecting and emitting devices. The ammonolysis of a precursor was used to grow InGaN powders with different indium composition. High purity hexagonal GaN and InN were obtained. XRD spectra showed complete phase separation for samples with x < 30%, with ~ 9% indium incorporation in the 30% sample. The presence of InGaN in this sample was confirmed by PL measurements, where luminescence from both GaN and InGaN band edge are observed. The growth of higher indium compositions samples proved to be difficult, with only the presence of InN in the sample. Nonetheless, by controlling parameters like temperature and time may lead to successful growth of this III-nitride alloy by this method.

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2011

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Sustainable water management in Ciudad Juarez

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ABSTRACT Water resources in many parts of the world are subject to increasing stress because of (a) the growth in demand caused by population increase and economic development, (b) threats to supply caused by climate and land cover change, and

ABSTRACT Water resources in many parts of the world are subject to increasing stress because of (a) the growth in demand caused by population increase and economic development, (b) threats to supply caused by climate and land cover change, and (c) a heightened awareness of the importance of maintaining water supplies to other parts of the ecosystem. An additional factor is the quality of water management. The United States-Mexican border provides an example of poor water management combined with increasing demand for water resources that are both scarce and uncertain. This dissertation focuses on the problem of water management in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. The city has attracted foreign investment during the last few decades, largely due to relatively low environmental and labor costs, and to a range of tax incentives and concessions. This has led to economic and population growth, but also to higher demand for public services such as water which leads to congestion and scarcity. In particular, as water resources have become scarce, the cost of water supply has increased. The dissertation analyzes the conditions that allow for the efficient use of water resources at sustainable levels of economic activity--i.e., employment and investment. In particular, it analyzes the water management strategies that lead to an efficient and sustainable use of water when the source of water is either an aquifer, or there is conjunctive use of ground and imported water. The first part of the dissertation constructs a model of the interactive effects of water supply, wage rates, inward migration of labor and inward investment of capital. It shows how growing water scarcity affects population growth through the impact it has on real wage rates, and how this erodes the comparative advantage of Ciudad Juarez--low wages--to the point where foreign investment stops. This reveals the very close connection between water management and the level of economic activity in Ciudad Juarez. The second part of the dissertation examines the effect of sustainable and efficient water management strategies on population and economic activity levels under two different settings. In the first Ciudad Juarez relies exclusively on ground water to meet demand--this reflects the current situation of Ciudad Juarez. In the second Ciudad Juarez is able both to import water and to draw on aquifers to meet demand. This situation is motivated by the fact that Ciudad Juarez is considering importing water from elsewhere to maintain its economic growth and mitigate the overdraft of the Bolson del Hueco aquifer. Both models were calibrated on data for Ciudad Juarez, and then used to run experiments with respect to different environmental and economic conditions, and different water management options. It is shown that for a given set of technological, institutional and environmental conditions, the way water is managed in a desert environment determines the long run equilibrium levels of employment, investment and output. It is also shown that the efficiency of water management is consistent with the sustainability of water use and economic activity. Importing water could allow the economy to operate at higher levels of activity than where it relies solely on local aquifers. However, at some scale, water availability will limit the level of economic activity, and the disposable income of the residents of Ciudad Juarez.

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2011

Surface stress during electro-oxidation of carbon monoxide and bulk stress evolution during electrochemical intercalation of lithium

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This work investigates in-situ stress evolution of interfacial and bulk processes in electrochemical systems, and is divided into two projects. The first project examines the electrocapillarity of clean and CO-covered electrodes. It also investigates surface stress evolution during electro-oxidation of

This work investigates in-situ stress evolution of interfacial and bulk processes in electrochemical systems, and is divided into two projects. The first project examines the electrocapillarity of clean and CO-covered electrodes. It also investigates surface stress evolution during electro-oxidation of CO at Pt{111}, Ru/Pt{111} and Ru{0001} electrodes. The second project explores the evolution of bulk stress that occurs during intercalation (extraction) of lithium (Li) and formation of a solid electrolyte interphase during electrochemical reduction (oxidation) of Li at graphitic electrodes. Electrocapillarity measurements have shown that hydrogen and hydroxide adsorption are compressive on Pt{111}, Ru/Pt{111}, and Ru{0001}. The adsorption-induced surface stresses correlate strongly with adsorption charge. Electrocatalytic oxidation of CO on Pt{111} and Ru/Pt{111} gives a tensile surface stress. A numerical method was developed to separate both current and stress into background and active components. Applying this model to the CO oxidation signal on Ru{0001} gives a tensile surface stress and elucidates the rate limiting steps on all three electrodes. The enhanced catalysis of Ru/Pt{111} is confirmed to be bi-functional in nature: Ru provides adsorbed hydroxide to Pt allowing for rapid CO oxidation. The majority of Li-ion batteries have anodes consisting of graphite particles with polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) as binder. Intercalation of Li into graphite occurs in stages and produces anisotropic strains. As batteries have a fixed size and shape these strains are converted into mechanical stresses. Conventionally staging phenomena has been observed with X-ray diffraction and collaborated electrochemically with the potential. Work herein shows that staging is also clearly observed in stress. The Li staging potentials as measured by differential chronopotentiometry and stress are nearly identical. Relative peak heights of Li staging, as measured by these two techniques, are similar during reduction, but differ during oxidation due to non-linear stress relaxation phenomena. This stress relaxation appears to be due to homogenization of Li within graphite particles rather than viscous flow of the binder. The first Li reduction wave occurs simultaneously with formation of a passivating layer known as the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI). Preliminary experiments have shown the stress of SEI formation to be tensile (~+1.5 MPa).

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2011

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Quenching our thirst for future knowledge: participatory scenario construction and sustainable water governance in a desert city

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Transformational sustainability science demands that stakeholders and researchers consider the needs and values of future generations in pursuit of solutions to sustainability problems. This dissertation research focuses on the real-world problem of unsustainable water governance in the Phoenix region of

Transformational sustainability science demands that stakeholders and researchers consider the needs and values of future generations in pursuit of solutions to sustainability problems. This dissertation research focuses on the real-world problem of unsustainable water governance in the Phoenix region of Central Arizona. A sustainability transition is the local water system is necessary to overcome sustainability challenges and scenarios can be used to explore plausible and desirable futures to inform a transition, but this requires some methodological refinements. This dissertation refines scenario methodology to generate water governance scenarios for metropolitan Phoenix that: (i) feature enhanced stakeholder participation; (ii) incorporate normative values and preferences; (iii) focus on governance actors and their activities; and (iv) meet an expanded set of quality criteria. The first study in the dissertation analyzes and evaluates participatory climate change scenarios to provide recommendations for the construction and use of scenarios that advance climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. The second study proposes and tests a set of plausibility indications to substantiate or evaluate claims that scenarios and future projections could become reality, helping to establish the legitimacy of radically different or transformative scenarios among an extended peer community. The case study of water governance begins with the third study, which includes a current state analysis and sustainability appraisal of the Phoenix-area water system. This is followed by a fourth study which surveys Phoenix-area water decision-makers to better understand water-related preferences for use in scenario construction. The fifth and final study applies a multi-method approach to construct future scenarios of water governance in metropolitan Phoenix in 2030 using stakeholder preferences, among other normative frames, and testing systemic impacts with WaterSim 5.0, a dynamic simulation model of water in the region. The scenarios are boundary objects around which stakeholders can weigh tradeoffs, set priorities and reflect on impacts of water-related activities, broadening policy dialogues around water governance in central Arizona. Together the five studies advance transformational sustainability research by refining methods to engage stakeholders in crafting futures that define how individuals and institutions should operate in transformed and sustainable systems.

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2014

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Synthesis and characterization of thionated reduced graphene oxides and their thin films

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Thiol functionalization is one potentially useful way to tailor physical and chemical properties of graphene oxides (GOs) and reduced graphene oxides (RGOs). Despite the ubiquitous presence of thiol functional groups in diverse chemical systems, efficient thiol functionalization has been challenging

Thiol functionalization is one potentially useful way to tailor physical and chemical properties of graphene oxides (GOs) and reduced graphene oxides (RGOs). Despite the ubiquitous presence of thiol functional groups in diverse chemical systems, efficient thiol functionalization has been challenging for GOs and RGOs, or for carbonaceous materials in general. In this work, thionation of GOs has been achieved in high yield through two new methods that also allow concomitant chemical reduction/thermal reduction of GOs; a solid-gas metathetical reaction method with boron sulfides (BxSy) gases and a solvothermal reaction method employing phosphorus decasulfide (P4S10). The thionation products, called "mercapto reduced graphene oxides (m-RGOs)", were characterized by employing X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, powder X-ray diffraction, UV-Vis spectroscopy, FT-IR spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, electron probe analysis, scanning electron microscopy, (scanning) transmission electron microscopy, nano secondary ion mass spectrometry, Ellman assay and atomic force microscopy. The excellent dispersibility of m-RGOs in various solvents including alcohols has allowed fabrication of thin films of m-RGOs. Deposition of m-RGOs on gold substrates was achieved through solution deposition and the m-RGOs were homogeneously distributed on gold surface shown by atomic force microscopy. Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) films of m-RGOs were obtained by transferring their Langmuir films, formed by simple drop casting of m-RGOs dispersion on water surface, onto various substrates including gold, glass and indium tin oxide. The m-RGO LB films showed low sheet resistances down to about 500 kΩ/sq at 92% optical transparency. The successful results make m-RGOs promising for applications in transparent conductive coatings, biosensing, etc.

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2013

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Combined photo- and thermionic electron emission from low work function diamond films

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In this dissertation, combined photo-induced and thermionic electron emission from low work function diamond films is studied through low energy electron spectroscopy analysis and other associated techniques. Nitrogen-doped, hydrogen-terminated diamond films prepared by the microwave plasma chemical vapor deposition method

In this dissertation, combined photo-induced and thermionic electron emission from low work function diamond films is studied through low energy electron spectroscopy analysis and other associated techniques. Nitrogen-doped, hydrogen-terminated diamond films prepared by the microwave plasma chemical vapor deposition method have been the most focused material. The theme of this research is represented by four interrelated issues. (1) An in-depth study describes combined photo-induced and thermionic emission from nitrogen-doped diamond films on molybdenum substrates, which were illuminated with visible light photons, and the electron emission spectra were recorded as a function of temperature. The diamond films displayed significant emissivity with a low work function of ~ 1.5 eV. The results indicate that these diamond emitters can be applied in combined solar and thermal energy conversion. (2) The nitrogen-doped diamond was further investigated to understand the physical mechanism and material-related properties that enable the combined electron emission. Through analysis of the spectroscopy, optical absorbance and photoelectron microscopy results from sample sets prepared with different configurations, it was deduced that the photo-induced electron generation involves both the ultra-nanocrystalline diamond and the interface between the diamond film and metal substrate. (3) Based on results from the first two studies, possible photon-enhanced thermionic emission was examined from nitrogen-doped diamond films deposited on silicon substrates, which could provide the basis for a novel approach for concentrated solar energy conversion. A significant increase of emission intensity was observed at elevated temperatures, which was analyzed using computer-based modeling and a combination of different emission mechanisms. (4) In addition, the electronic structure of vanadium-oxide-terminated diamond surfaces was studied through in-situ photoemission spectroscopy. Thin layers of vanadium were deposited on oxygen-terminated diamond surfaces which led to oxide formation. After thermal annealing, a negative electron affinity was found on boron-doped diamond, while a positive electron affinity was found on nitrogen-doped diamond. A model based on the barrier at the diamond-oxide interface was employed to analyze the results. Based on results of this dissertation, applications of diamond-based energy conversion devices for combined solar- and thermal energy conversion are proposed.

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2013