Seed Grant Program

Seed grants are awarded with funding provided by the Binghamton University Road Map through the Provost's Office and the Division of Research.

The goal of these seed grants is to encourage faculty to develop collaborative projects that stimulate the advancement of new ideas that can build Binghamton University's expertise toward a national reputation in the broad area of smart energy. This competitive, peer-reviewed program is providing initial support for proposed long-term programs of collaborative research that have strong potential to attract external funding.

The call for proposals for seed grant funding for the 2019–2020 academic year, including an overview, an explanation of the process and eligibility, a proposal cover page and a proposal budget page is available on this website.

For the 2018–2019 academic year, the following seed grants were awarded:

Supercapacitive Biophotovoltaics for Self-powered Autonomous Wireless Sensors

Seokheun Choi, electrial and computer engineering, and Ahyeon Koh, biomedical engineering

"Biophotovoltaics can be the most suitable power source for unattended environmental sensors because the technique resembles the earth's natural ecosystem -- living organisms work in conjunction with nonliving components of their environment to create a self-assembling and self-maintaining system. However, the promise of this technology has not been translated into practical applications because of its relatively low power (~at most a few µW/cm2) and current short life-times (<13 days in a closed system). To fulfill the potential of biophotovoltaic technology as a superior substitute for conventional batteries and other energy harvesting devices for future wireless sensing applications, there is a clear and pressing need to discover powerful yet simple approaches for high-performance, self-sustaining, long-life biophotovoltaics, and to ensure their practical feasibility as a power source for those wireless sensor networks. The primary objective of this proposal is to establish innovative strategies to revolutionize biophotovoltaic performance to attain high power density (>100mW/cm2) and long-term operational capability (>1 year) that then provides a practical and sustainable power supply for the environmental sensing applications. This objective can be achieved by creating an innovative supercapacitive biophotovoltaic device with maximized bacterial photoelectrochemical activities in a well-controlled, tightly enclosed micro-chamber. The proposed technique is based on a 3-D double-functional bio-anode concurrently exhibiting bio-electrocatalytic and charge-storage features to offer the high-energy harvesting functionality of biophotovoltaics with the high-power operation of an internal supercapacitor for charging and discharging."

Metal Ion Intercalation in Vanadium Pentoxide Batteries

Manuel Smeu, physics, Louis Piper, physics, and M. Stanley Whittingham, chemistry

Vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) aerogels are a promising Li-ion battery cathode due to their ability to reversibly intercalate several Li+ ions per V2O5 formula unit. However, Li/V2O5 batteries are limited due to their poor capacity retention which was discovered to be a result of LiOH formation during cycling. In this investigation, we will determine if other cations such as Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+, and Al3+ intercalated within V2O5 aerogels will cause poor capacity retention as seen with Li/V2O5 batteries. Due to the multivalent nature of Ca2+, Mg2+, and Al3+, it is not obvious whether hydroxyl ions should form during cycling, contrary to what is observed with monovalent Li+. We will computationally model V2O5 aerogels intercalated with cations other than Li+, and we will experimentally fabricate and characterize these battery materials to determine if the poor capacity retention of V2O5 aerogels is limited to its pairing with the Li+ cation. Our project combines the efforts of one computational physics group, one experimental physics group, and one experimental chemistry and material science and engineering group. This funding will primarily support 3 students over the summer term and provide the necessary preliminary data to then apply for national-level funding form the NSF and DOE.