The goal of the research in the Batteas labs is to obtain a fundamental understanding of the chemistry and physics of surfaces and interfaces, and the important role they play in grand challenges that impact society, such as addressing critical needs in the areas of energy and sustainability. Our work, while fundamental, is always aimed at what transformations this work may enable for society. This ranges from developing new materials for energy storage and conservation, to understanding how friction works on the atomic scale, to how the directed application of mechanical forces can enable new approaches for sustainable chemical synthesis.

To this end our research is highly multidisciplinary, and is currently organized around three main project themes: (1) Nanoscale Materials and Devices--with a focus on designing materials from the molecular level on up for novel electronics and energy storage systems; (2) Nanotribology--seeking to understand the atomic scale origins of friction, and to utilize this to control friction across scales, from micro-devices to machined interfaces, for robotics, and even up to the role of friction, and the chemical reactions that control them, in earthquakes, and lastly; (3) Mechanochemistry--where the application of precise mechanical forces to molecules can be used to drive chemical reactions in dry solids, leading to more energy efficient, safer, and more selective and sustainable approaches to chemical synthesis.

In each area, work is centered on obtaining a fundamental (molecular level) understanding of the underlying chemistry and physics of the systems in question, to afford rational approaches to test and develop new technologies. In much of our research, we employ a range of advanced microscopies, such as scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) to probe structure and to manipulate materials down to the atomic scale. The range of projects our lab is engaged in provide the students that work with us with a strong multidisciplinary background, affording them the opportunity for training in chemistry, physical and analytical methods, nanotechnology, and materials science. Students in our lab have also been exposed to a diverse set of research environments through collaborative interactions with national laboratory facilities, including the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratory, and partnerships and collaborations with companies, such as Boeing, Huntsman Corporation, Nike, Exxon-Mobil, Dow Chemical and Eastman Chemical.

Our most recent effort, launching into developing the fundamental understanding of how to use mechanical force to drive chemical reactions, has enabled us to combine several aspects of our research in nanoscale materials with our work in nanotribology. This blending has led to the newly funded National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Chemical Innovation, the NSF Center for the Mechanical Control of Chemistry being led by Batteas, which was launched in September 2020. This new NSF center aims to transform the ways in which we carryout chemical synthesis as we know it, by merging the fundamental fields of chemistry and mechanics, enabling new technologies for the future of chemistry.

Download a poster of our current work using this link: Batteas Research Poster

Batteam Logo