Anton Van der Ven Receives NSF CAREER Award

Anton Van der Ven Receives NSF CAREER Award

Assistant Professor Anton Van der Ven

Assistant professor Anton Van der Ven has been awarded the Early Faculty Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation for research leading to the development of first-principles methods to predict thermodynamic and kinetic properties of alloys, oxides and semi-conducting compounds at finite temperature.

First-principles electronic structure methods have reached a level of accuracy and ease of use to make them an invaluable tool in materials research. They now frequently complement experiment, serving to uncover the electronic origins of observed solid-state phenomena. Their ability to predict fundamental properties at the atomic level, without any experimental input, is enabling the virtual design of new materials with desired properties. In spite of this success, however, major challenges remain in linking electronic structure to macroscopic properties that arise from thermally activated collective behavior in technologically important materials.

The CAREER Award, a five-year grant totaling $400,000, will allow Van der Ven to develop theoretical and computational tools that connect electronic structure with materials properties at finite temperature, with a focus on phase stability, diffusion and phase transformation kinetics in multi-component crystalline solids. The starting point will be a rigorous application of statistical mechanical principles, both to characterize equilibrium as well as kinetic properties. In parallel, the grant will allow the development of automated and user-friendly software that implements these statistical mechanical tools for any crystalline, multi-component solid. The software will not only serve research but will also be implemented in classroom settings to illustrate the statistical mechanical principles underlying thermally activated processes in materials of technological significance.