Mittleman Receives Funding from Welch Foundation
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Interim Faculty Director
of the Smalley Institute for Nanoscale and Technology, received funding from
two separate organizations last week.
The Welch Foundation is awarding Mittleman $180,000 over the next three years. The grant
will fund a study of materials known as clathrates, which are ice-like
crystalline cages of water that contain a molecule of a different species,
one molecule inside each cage. He and his team plan to study the
terahertz vibrational modes of these cage structures, and how they change when
the caged molecule is swapped. For example, they will start with methane in the
cages, and then replace it with CO2. Since most of the
world's fossil fuel reserve is stored in the form of methane clathrates, this
work could have important implications for future energy needs and also for
climate change: methane released from clathrates would be a much more
potent greenhouse gas than CO2.
“There is a real concern that warming permafrost in the arctic will cause the clathrates in the
ground there to destabilize and release their methane, so understanding their
stability is pretty important,” Mittleman said.