In this episode Abbey interviews Dr. Sean Roberts from the Chemistry Department at The University of Texas at Austin. Abbey and Dr. Roberts talk about his research with solar cells, his path to academia, broadening participation efforts, and future of this research and the Center.
- Dr. Sean RobertsAssociate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin
- Abbey StanzioneOutreach Program Coordinator for the Center for Dynamics and Control of Materials
[00:00:00] Abbey Stanzione: Welcome to the Materials Universe podcast, a podcast where we will explore the world of materials science and how it shapes our lives. My name is Abbey Stanzione and I will be your host this season. Join me as I interview researchers from the Center for Dynamics and Control of Materials at UT Austin.
Hello and welcome and happy new year. You’re listening to the Materials Universe Podcast. I’m your host, Abbey Stanzione. Today with me, I have Dr. Sean Roberts, who’s an associate professor in the chemistry department at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also the education faculty director for the CDCM and a member of the IRG 1 research group.
Welcome, Dr. Roberts.
[00:00:40] Sean Roberts: Thank you, Abbey. I’m happy to be here. Okay.
[00:00:42] Abbey Stanzione: So starting with my usual first question, tell me a little bit about how you came to be at UT today.
[00:00:47] Sean Roberts: Oh, jeez. that’s a really broad question. well, I guess I could start off with a little bit of my background. so I grew up in Southern California and went to UCLA.
So I went to the big state school, in my backyard, basically. And there are really. fell in love with science. I’d always been interested in science before, but, I started off as a biochemistry major and, really enjoyed the physics and mathematics classes that I was taking there. And that got me into research work and it really got me into working, using lasers to look at chemical reactions.
I had a professor my first year at UCLA that, worked in that area and, he really got me hooked in science. so I went to graduate school on the East Coast at MIT, did a postdoc at USC and then eventually ended up in, at UT, in part because of the strengths here in material science and engineering.
That’s really cool.
[00:01:36] Abbey Stanzione: How did you come back to work in a research lab as an undergraduate student? I know a lot of undergrads wonder how they can start getting more hands on experience, so I was wondering how you went about finding that opportunity.
[00:01:47] Sean Roberts: it started off, actually, he brought into the classroom one day, a little vial with this really pretty deep, purple liquid.
and, he mentioned to the class that it was sodium minus, and that might not ring too many bells for folks in the audience. But, when you hear about sodium, oftentimes it’s in a plus state. so when you’re talking about sodium intake or sodium salts or even table salt, sodium chloride, that sodium is a sodium plus.
and sodium doesn’t like to have an extra electron very often. And so sodium minus is a very unusual thing. And the fact that he was able to make it in his laboratory and was studying it using, laser spectroscopy to me was just incredibly fascinating. And so I talked with him a bunch, but it really wasn’t until my junior year that I worked up the nerve to go up and talk to him about maybe doing some research in his laboratory.
[00:02:32] Abbey Stanzione: love that what caught your initial attention was the demonstration you saw in the classroom. I think that’s the one thing that we really hope to see when we, as a center, have science and engineering outreach programs like the elementary STEM clubs. You never know what might stick with a kid. You know, these kids often see these versions of scientists on TV or in movies, and it isn’t really that accurate.
So how does being a scientist affect your everyday life? Outside of the lab, do you live a completely different
[00:03:01] Sean Roberts: life? I will say that the depictions of scientists you see in popular media are not always the truth, usually pretty far from it. I rarely wear a white lab coat, for example, especially in universities, faculty at universities like, like here at UT, we touch a lot of different spaces.
We teach classes, of course, but we also, you know, do a lot of mentorship with our students. you know, really teaching them how to, Think about different problems and to go off and do great things. And then we also spend a lot of time advising and doing kind of like writing and those types of things as well, too, that aren’t necessarily things you see, in the research laboratory directly.
And so, in terms of lifestyle, it’s, you know, it’s very different than what you see in popular media. We’re not always in a laboratory, just. Mixing stuff together. there’s quite a bit of things we do, outside of the laboratory as well. That, that really is almost like science advocacy in a lot of ways that, that, that helps to move it along and forward.
So in terms of changing my lifestyle around, one thing that is great about being A faculty member is that I really don’t have a boss in a lot of ways. and so I’m kind of allowed to kind of do research work on the things that I think are really fascinating and interesting. And so, in terms of a creative endeavor, I can’t really think of so many, too many other jobs that really, it gives you that same kind of freedom, to really go off and tackle problems that you think are important and interesting in quite the same way.
And so I think it is a fantastic position to be in. if you’re just really intrinsically a curious person, you can really go off and try to satisfy and answer a lot of the questions that you have, just about how the world works by being a scientist. And so that’s one of the things that I really enjoy about this job.
And in terms of world view and outlook, I guess, you know, when I see something outside in the world that makes me go kind of, huh. You know, sometimes I can lead to a research question and in this job that I’ve got, I have a lot of tools that are out there that kind of allowed me to go off and answer that.
And so if I want to go off and change my research direction or research focus, in my position, I’m lucky enough that I can actually do that and try to really say something useful about the world. That sounds like
[00:04:59] Abbey Stanzione: a cool job to me. You mentioned mentorship of students, so I wanted to talk a little bit about the CREATE program that you started.
For our listeners, CREATE stands for Chemical Research at Texas. Can you tell them a little bit more about what the inspiration was for bringing that to
[00:05:14] Sean Roberts: Texas? Yeah. so, so thank you for asking about that. the create program is a program I started here at UT in 2017. so we’ve been going for about seven, seven plus years now.
And that program is a partnership program between UT and Austin Community College. So we bring in students from ACC during the summer, and we Place them in the research laboratories. And so that kind of formative experience that I mentioned about myself working in a laboratory as an undergraduate, we bring in Austin Community College students and give them a very similar type of experience.
so each students placed into a laboratory with a research mentor. They work to design a project that’s typically focused in chemistry or material science and engineering. and then try to it. Finish up that project over the course of nine weeks, and usually they’re just scratching the surface by the end, but they’ve reached some kind of conclusions that they can present, and they have a chance to do that at the end of the summer in a poster session.
And so the students, it’s a really different experience working in a research laboratory because there’s no, kind of pre designed laboratories. you know, if you’ve taken a lab class before, you’re usually handed a lab manual and told how. Kind of how to do things in a research work. It’s really more about creativity and what you want to explore and how you want to tackle problems where you really don’t have a kind of roadmap.
And so the students have often responded pretty positively to that. And, you know, we hope to impact their feelings about science and their future careers by giving them this experience.
[00:06:36] Abbey Stanzione: I have to say it has been a real pleasure working with the create students in the summers. As you know, they attend some of the workshops, seminars, and other events we host, and they have been so grateful for the experience and for the opportunity to participate in the program.
What do you think your philosophy is around broadening participation? How is it important to you, or what does it mean to you?
[00:06:57] Sean Roberts: Broadening participation is a broad statement, but I think that also gets to what it really gets at, which is everyone can participate in science, and I think that starts off at a very early age, getting students involved in science and thinking about it.
And even if they don’t want to go down, down it for a career path, at least recognizing its importance and its intrinsic value and then more towards folks who are actually doing science. I’m making sure that everyone from different backgrounds, you know, regardless of where they came from, how they’ve developed as a person, really has a seat at the table and can participate in scientific endeavors.
Making folks feel welcome in science is very important. In terms of the science itself, it makes it much better. The more you can bring in diverse views into the research laboratory, diverse experiences, the kind of some more creative outcomes I feel you really get when you’re working on research projects.
And so I think it’s important, not only just from a humanistic point of view to making sure that everybody feels welcome, but actually I think it makes a much better product at the end of the day, when you’re looking at the kinds of research outcomes that you get. Yeah,
[00:08:00] Abbey Stanzione: I could not agree more. One of the things that, you know, we try to do as a center is make the students feel part of community and make them feel safe in a space that they’re in, and to be able to share the ideas and the different viewpoints that they might have that could be different from the rest of the team.
It is the diversity of thought or thinking that. has the potential for great research. So some people may not know this about you, but you’ve received an NSF Career Award, which is a program funded by the National Science Foundation. And it’s quite prestigious. it supports early career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and in education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.
It’s meant to help build a foundation for young academics. So I was wondering how you feel that has impacted your career pathway.
[00:08:55] Sean Roberts: Yeah, the NSF career award was really, it kind of kickstarted my laboratory in a lot of ways. so it was, a good amount of investment for the national science foundation in my research work, which allowed me to do some work, that was a bit more exploratory.
And in parallel, the career award is really a, an award that’s designed to,not only create. Create, outstanding scholars, but also outstanding, teachers and and educators. And so, the other half of that award actually allowed me to really fund the Create program and get it started. And so the same year that I was awarded, that really was the first, year that the Create program was launched.
And, it’s continued really through to this day. It sounds like
[00:09:32] Abbey Stanzione: receiving the award was a crucial part in how you came to be the faculty education director here in the center. Could you expand a little more on how the career award helped build up the lab and the research experiments? And this might be a good time to, to dive a little more into the work that your research group is focusing
[00:09:49] Sean Roberts: on now.
If you were to ask me more broadly to characterize my group, maybe in a sentence or two, I would say that we make, materials that Really efficiently change the color of light, and that might sound very strange or esoteric, but, it turns out that’s a pretty important process in using light to drive things like chemical reactions or to move electrons and solar cells or other kinds of devices.
everything that light does really depends on the color of the light that you’re trying to use, and that’s because lights comprised of little particles called photons. And each of those photons carry different amounts of energy, depending on the color of light that you’ve got. So. Red light, you know, per photon carries a lot less energy than blue light or ultraviolet light does.
And so we make materials that can take red light and try to mix it together and use it to generate ultraviolet photons or vice versa. And that allows you to really do some interesting transformations that are useful in a range of applications like, 3D printing. It also has some applications and some biomedical aspects as well, too.
and then we’ve also been trying to go the opposite direction, taking things like green light and converting it really efficiently into red light because that turns out to be really useful for things like solar energy conversion. those kinds of processes. And so, you know, fundamentally, from a material science point of view, this often requires mixing things together that don’t normally go together.
kind of like organic compounds, or dye molecules, things like paints, with things like semiconductors. so kind of more inorganic things you might find, that are being processed more and kind of, microscopy or a, a semiconductor fabric or fab. and so, you know, we do a lot of the chemistry to look at their interfaces.
[00:11:24] Abbey Stanzione: of the applications of the materials you mentioned that is of interest to me, and I hope for our listeners, is renewable energy. Could you tell us more about how your research impacts solar cells? I also understand that you work with nanocrystals. Do they feature in your work, on solar
[00:11:39] Sean Roberts: energy? sure.
so solar cells, I want to start off by saying that they’re actually pretty dang good. you know, in terms of, silicon solar cells that you would go around and buy commercially, their efficiencies for converting sunlight into electricity can be upwards of 20 percent now. Which is incredibly good.
but in terms of,how good they can get, there’s something out there called the Shockey Kweiser limit, or it’s also called the detailed balance limit. but basically it’s a thermodynamic limit that, you know, says, you know, assuming with some assumptions, like what are the, what’s the best the solar cells can do if you’re using something like silicon.
And it turns out that, that cap is right around 30%, converting the incident sunlight into electricity. So you go around Austin. And you look at a lot of roofs that are out there, where we got to, you know, the Weberville solar farm, that’s just outside of the city, a little bit near Manor. you see these rows of panels and those panels are primarily made out of silicon, that, which is being used to absorb and capture the light.
[00:12:33] Abbey Stanzione: Just a second, Dr. Roberts, I’d like to explain the Weberville solar farm just a little. The 35 megawatt farm has been operational since 2011 and has 127, 728 solar panels. That span about 380 acres. So to put that into more context, that’s like putting a little over 500 football fields together. It was expected to generate 61 gigawatt hours in the first year and 1.
4 billion kilowatt hours over its 25 year life. And the average home in the U. S. is generating about 11 kilowatt hours per year, that has a lot of potential. So now you were saying that these panels are primarily made of silicon and they’re being used to absorb and capture the light.
[00:13:20] Sean Roberts: Right, and silicon, you know, does really well at capturing visible light, which is why the panels look dark to your eye.
they capture UV photons, they capture blue photons, they capture green photons, but they don’t treat all the energy all the same. And it turns out that, when silicon absorbs a red photon, it does really well at converting that energy into electricity. Most of the energy of the photon goes into that.
But when it’s absorbing in the blue or ultraviolet, it doesn’t do as well. A lot of the energy is lost as heat. And so these kind of down conversion materials that we work on can, you know, take, blue photons or green photons and convert them into pairs of red photons that silicon can use much more efficiently.
You reduce some of the heat generation by the cell and use it instead to make additional current. The nanocrystals are used, in kind of a different aspect and those systems were trying to do the opposite. they go to up convert light. And, so the nanocrystals that we use, are quantum dots typically.
so they’re little tiny chunks of semiconductor and you might’ve heard about quantum dots from my colleague Delia Miller on, who was on our. The prior podcast, but they’re little tiny chunks of material that when you dice them down, they start to change their properties. They start to change the colors of light they absorb.
And so you can very finely tune their absorption properties. And it turns out that these things are really great at capturing a lot of. Near infrared light, and we try to use those to pass energy off to organic molecules and composites that can then use that light to the energy to generate high energy photons.
And there’s a lot of details that go into that. All that process. it’s really a kind of a complicated energy transfer pathway. But at the end of the day, you can make the composite materials that take near infrared light and then try to convert it into visible light that can be absorbed. And that can help solar energy conversion because it turns out that Even though silicon absorbs a lot of visible light, it doesn’t absorb a lot of near infrared light.
And so you can take near infrared photons and up convert them to make visible ones that silicon can absorb, you can actually do a lot better there as well, too.
[00:15:14] Abbey Stanzione: Your group’s strategy for improving the solar cells beyond the limit sounds really interesting. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about the types of experiments your group does to create these
[00:15:24] Sean Roberts: materials.
We’re physical chemists, so we do a lot of fundamental studies. And so, these materials, the way that they work is they transfer energy between their organic and their inorganic components. So for example, with the quantum dots, the quantum dots themselves are absorbing light, but they need to pass that energy off to molecules in order to, Well, the molecules to do the up conversion process.
So intrinsically, there’s going to be some kind of energy transfer step that happens in the system. and to make that energy transfer really efficient. it’s often convenient to attach the molecules directly to the quantum dot surface. So we do a little bit of synthetic chemistry to do that. But then, you know, you make the system and you want to understand, does it There’s a do what you want it to do, and there’s not just one step that has to go right.
There’s usually like three or four different steps that have to go right. and so just looking at the end product, it can be a little difficult sometimes to figure out, you know, that step one or step two or step three go wrong if you don’t get the answer that you want. Right? And so what we end up doing in my group is we do a lot of laser based spectroscopy.
So if you were to kind of label the sub branch or subfield of physical chemistry that I work in, we work in an area called ultra fast spectroscopy where what you’re doing oftentimes is using very short bursts of light to pump energy into the system. And that starts this chain reaction of processes, that you can then track as a function of time using other short bursts of light.
So it’s kind of like taking a bunch of little pictures of the system very fast using short pulses of light, but that then allows you to watch, you know, each step as it unfolds. And then you can kind of identify, oh, it was step two that went wrong, not step three or step one.
[00:16:57] Abbey Stanzione: So your work is focusing on basic research.
Can you explain a little bit about how basic research differs from applied research? So
[00:17:05] Sean Roberts: while we were motivated oftentimes by applications, we’re really focused on trying to understand at a very fundamental level, how energy transfer works between all the different components that go into the systems that we build.
and so the, you know, we’re really trying to understand, you know, if I put a chemical bond. Here in a particular way, or if I change the structure of the system in a slightly different way, you know, how to fundamentally does that change how energy moves in the system and transfers between his different components.
So we’re really interested in trying to understand that. And then also trying to, you know, leverage once you see some experiments you do in the laboratory, right? I’m trying to connect that with, kind of theory based models or things like that you can use to describe the process. Because if you have a model that you can actually then make predictions about.
How to make it better, right? So oftentimes in my group, modeling goes hand in hand with experiments. you get some data and then you try to model it and you change the model around a little bit. And then once you get something that kind of fits the data, you can try to extend it and make predictions about, you know, if I was to change the system in this way, would that make the system better or worse?
so we’re, you know, kind of the, the exchange between theory and experiment really goes hand in hand. And it’s pretty critical to driving the science forward.
[00:18:15] Abbey Stanzione: That is really interesting. And how does your group fit into the research being done by
[00:18:19] Sean Roberts: IRG 1? So IRG 1 is really focused on developing reconfigurable materials, or materials that we, that undergo field assembly is maybe another way to put it.
so these are materials that, are very responsive to their environment. And when you introduce some kind of fuel source, like a chemical or light, something that provides energy to the system, they reconfigure into one particular structure. And then once that fuel is exhausted, they basically fall apart.
and depending on the type of feel you introduce, they can maybe adopt different structures. And so, this gives you kind of an interesting way to control the structure of these things in a way that’s, almost, kind of, in some sense, kind of lifelike. in terms of what my laboratory provides to the IRG, is a lot of our imaging capabilities.
So, with some of these. Ultrafast science techniques, they allow us to look very locally at what’s happening inside of these materials. And so we can basically see, as these things form and structure, are they doing so uniformly, every part of the material behaving the same or some parts behaving differently.
We can track that with really with a spatial resolutions that, are kind of approaching the nano scale in my group. And so, that allows us to really get a lot of exquisite information about how these things are being formed and how they’re dissipating.
[00:19:32] Abbey Stanzione: I wanted to ask you, since your group works in ultrafast spectroscopy, about the recent Nobel Prize in Physics that was just announced.
It was awarded to three scientists for their research into attosecond pulses of light, right? So, I was wondering what your thoughts were on that Nobel being awarded for that area of
[00:19:51] Sean Roberts: research. Yeah, I think it’s pretty exciting. Actually, this is a really great day to be an ultra fast scientist. and the physics Nobel was awarded for add a second science, which even in terms of, how fast, those kinds of experiments can look at processes, kind of blows my research group out of the water a little bit.
So add a second pulses are, let’s see,billionth of a second in duration. that’s an add of second if I’m doing the math, right? And so you’re able to look at incredibly fast processes that you really couldn’t see, you know, prior to the development of those technologies. And so, you know, what kinds of things are happening on those time scales?
things like electron motion, take place there. So you can really watch electrons move,You know, practically in real time by doing that. In comparison, my laboratory uses femtosecond pulses, which are about 1000 times slower. But the technology is much more conventional. And, you know, for a lot of the processes that my group looks at, that’s good enough.
But the attosecond work is really revolutionary. And it’s leading to a lot of really interesting discoveries in physics and even in chemistry now.
[00:20:50] Abbey Stanzione: That is really mind boggling. In that context, where do you see the future of this research and your research heading? What do you see is on the
[00:20:58] Sean Roberts: horizon?
Oh, geez. you know, it’s hard for me to predict, you know, what’s on the horizon. I do think that the materials we work on, will eventually have some relevance for solar, but I think that’s pretty far down the line. you know, a lot of the fundamental work that we do is already leading to some interest Testing applications in, in lighting and in, in 3D printing, we actually just shipped off, some publications in that area where we’re using some of our materials to do, light based, 3D printing.
So basically turning liquids into solids using light, that you can then shape the light and use that to make whatever shape in The solid that you want, we’ve done a lot of work on fundamentals of materials and have looked at that. And I am really interested in trying to take some of these materials all the way through and try to, you know, actually make something that, moves outside of the research laboratory and into, the commercial sector.
so I’m interested in that and I’ve. I’ve been talking to UC’s patent office about a few things, but we’ll see if any of that kind of stuff pans out. but I’m also very interested in, pushing the development of new, ultra fast laser techniques. and so we’ve been doing some work in, like I mentioned before, microscopy.
And I think that’s something that, you know, when you have new tools that can allow you to look at materials in new and different ways. that you couldn’t do before that really opens up a space where you can apply them to a range of different problems. And so I think that, you know, we’ll continue to innovate in that space.
and so I think those applications are coming in and we’ll have, more of an impact in the immediate future. but I don’t know. I think there’s a lot to be done, and I think we’re learning a lot about fundamental science. And I’m just every year I’m in this field, I learned something new.
And so if I was to try to read the tea leaves and predict what was coming on the line, I feel I would be terribly off. But, but I think there’s a lot of things in just optoelectronics and that are that will come out of this work, eventually. Yeah.
[00:22:45] Abbey Stanzione: So looking at those same tea leaves, what do you see your future is for your career and for the education and outreach efforts within the
[00:22:53] Sean Roberts: CDCM?
Oh, geez. let me tackle, I guess, the CDCM aspects first. I think that, You know, our work is been, really,the part that we’re really contributing to the CDCM in is, we’re using a lot of our ultra fast techniques, that we’ve developed. We’re really turning them towards microscopies now, where you can really look at, how different parts of a material, behave differently.
depending on, you know, the local structure, and that’s been a real challenge in ultra fast science to do that to couple those kinds of experimental techniques where you have very high time resolution. You can look at very fast processes. You can look at things like electron motion, but to do that spatially now in a material to look at, you know, this part of the material or that part of the material and see how to be, you know, they behave differently depending on how they structure locally.
And so I think that,those experiments get better and better. We’ll be able to understand more and more of the materials that we’re looking at in the CDC. And so looking at things like an IRG2, which focuses on, things involving 2D materials,twisted materials, things like that, where, variations in local structure can have really big impacts on whether a material is a superconductor or whether it’s an insulator or things like that, I think it’s something that we’ll be able to contribute, and I think that’s going to lead to a, you know, potentially a range of applications, that use these very thin materials, and I, have been looking at an IRG2 to do, a whole range of applications.
of science. And by the same token, in IRG1 where I’m actually situated, where we’re working on kind of reconfigurable materials, we can look to see how local variations in the structure of these materials impact on impact what they do. And so I think that’ll allow us to have really exquisite control over those kinds of, these reconfigurable chemical systems.
And that’ll allow us to do all manner of applications and things like, soft robotics and, you know, kind of, IR cloaking materials and, and other types of applications like that. In terms of education and outreach, I’m really excited by a lot of the new initiatives we started through the CDC.
so we’re expanding create two areas and engineering on. So we’re going to have some students from those areas of Austin Community College coming to campus for the first time, whereas create previously it only really focused on chemistry students. So I’m really excited for that. this coming summer.
we’re also starting some new initiatives looking at getting undergraduates interested in science. and engineering. And so I, I mentioned before that, really it was, my interactions with, my professors at UCLA. they got me interested in science, but it took me a long period of time to really work up the nerve to get into the laboratory and do research work.
And so, we’re trying to, bridge that gap a little bit by, creating a program we’re calling FUSE, which will be really focused on getting first year students here at UT working into research laboratories. And I’ll be hosting a couple of those students in my lab, this coming spring that I’m really excited about.
[00:25:32] Abbey Stanzione: think 2024 is going to be a great year for the center and for the research and education efforts. And hopefully those will continue to be great in 2025 and beyond. Okay, so my last question that I’ve been asking our other guests, that I’m really enjoying hearing the responses to, is if you had to pick another field that’s not related to yours to study, what would it be?
[00:25:57] Sean Roberts: Oh, geez. high energy physics is what I would say. I have a, kind of a fanboy love of that field. And, I’ve always been fascinated by just how matters put together and how it works and understanding, you know, really going beyond atoms and thinking about how, you know, different particles, different fundamental particles are built, and how the standard model of physics is kind of constructed is something that, I’ve been reading a lot about, but, I haven’t done any actual research work in that area.
And so it’s, you know, it’s related to what we do to some degree, but I’m really a chemist. And so we really work on the, you know, the, our fundamental units really are atoms. And so thinking about things that are really, you know, how separate different subatomic particles, you know, arrange themselves.
It’s something that, that I’m fascinated on, but it’s not directly relevant to our research work in a lot of ways, but if I was to go and work in a different area, yeah, I might want to go off and work in that area for a little bit, go work on a particle accelerator for a while or something like that, just do some work there and come back and, I don’t know, we’ll see.
[00:26:55] Abbey Stanzione: Yeah, that could be interesting. Okay, so I do have one more question for you. I know this one could be a little tricky to answer, but who do you think in the CDCM does the coolest research? If you could only pick one person to name, who would it be? I guess
[00:27:10] Sean Roberts: maybe I’ll say a bit of a biased question, which is, I think Delia Milaran’s research is pretty, pretty neat.
And the materials that she makes in terms of these, infrared absorbing material. So it’s just super interesting and super cool. And I’m also maybe a little biased because I collaborate with Delia. We’ve had a few publications together, but, you know, I think that the ideas that she has in terms of making these kinds of materials and the application space that she kind of works in,it’s yeah.
Incredibly inspiring and well put in and well put together has a lot of real world applications and and the materials themselves, just the physics behind how they do what they do, I think is incredibly fascinating. So, it kind of, touches all those,kind of areas of personal interest for me in terms of the science.
it’s got, you know, a really cool application. It’s got some really cool physics behind it. and there’s lots you can do with the chemistry of those things. And so in terms of, you know, the research space, I think it’s really fascinating. Okay. I
[00:28:06] Abbey Stanzione: think that’s a good answer and I wouldn’t say it’s too biased.
Plus it’s a great plug to go back and listen to the previous episode if you haven’t already. Thank you so much for sitting down with me today, Dr. Roberts. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation.
[00:28:19] Sean Roberts: And thank you, Abbey. this was a lot of fun.
[00:28:24] Abbey Stanzione: That’s all for today’s episode of the Materials Universe podcast. Thank you for listening to my interesting conversation with Dr. Sean Roberts. We hope that you’ve enjoyed learning something new. Please leave us a review and share this podcast with your friends or family. You can follow us on social media at Texas CDCM on Instagram and X.
Thank you to the National Science Foundation and the University of Texas at Austin. And an additional thank you to the Lattice Audio studio crew for their help with the production of this podcast.