UTSA Hosts Several Partner Institutions from an Energy Research Center Funded by the DOE

lecture audience

On November 10 and 11, UTSA hosted Fundamental Understanding of Transport Under Reactor Extremes (FUTURE) at its Main and Downtown Campuses. FUTURE is an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Sciences that is studying the coupling effect between irradiation and corrosion.

"Materials in nuclear energy systems are exposed to multiple extreme environments simultaneously," said Blas Pedro Uberuaga, director of FUTURE and a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. "In order to understand how those materials evolve, as well as develop improved materials, we need to understand the combined effect of those extreme environments."

The meeting was hybrid and included over 40 total participants, the majority of which attended in person. The event included tours of the Extreme Environments Materials Laboratory (EEML) and the Kleberg Advanced Microscopy Center (KAMC). UTSA students led the tours of the EEML, actively participated in meetings over the two days, and helped host FUTURE guests at both of UTSA’s campuses and throughout San Antonio.

"As an undergrad, it's easy to get stuck on experimental particulars while not fully understanding the relevance of the work you are doing as a whole," said Ethan Schneider, an undergraduate research assistant and senior majoring in physics. "I loved being able to sit in on these meetings as they allowed me to see how my lab's work ties into various other institutions, as well as how these experiments are planned out in the most general sense."

FUTURE includes researchers from UTSA, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, University of California at Berkeley, Bowling Green State University, North Carolina State University, and the University of Virginia. These institutions are partnering to explore experimental and computational approaches to identify the fundamental mechanisms that govern the response of materials to the combined extremes of irradiation and corrosion.

FUTURE was recently renewed for a second four years to investigate how the complexities of real materials (chemistry, phase and structure) impact the evolution of those materials under irradiation and corrosion. UTSA joined FUTURE in 2022 during the collaboration’s first renewal.

Elizabeth Sooby, assistant professor in the UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy, hosted the kick-off meeting of this second phase of FUTURE, which brought together researchers from each of the partner institutions with the goal of planning the initial set of experiments and computational efforts to support the goals of the Center.

"It was great to host some of the nation’s leading scientists studying irradiation and corrosion - a topic I’ve been engaged in since my own graduate studies," said Sooby.