Award Categories and Winners:
“Greening the Semiconductor Industry Electrochemically: Towards A Non-Energy Intensive Synthesis of Crystalline Semiconductor Materials”
This research comprises a new method for making technologically important semiconductors such as silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenide. These materials are traditionally synthesized in processes that require extreme temperatures (> 1000 °C), are based on intensive instrumentation (e.g. electrical furnaces, vacuum pumps), and (particularly in the case of Si) are multi-stepped processes that yield toxic by-products. The method is a direct electrochemical strategy that avoids excessive temperatures and could be imagined to run under benign (i.e. bench top) conditions.
The objective of the ongoing work is to develop a novel, non-energy intensive process that can be used to synthesize important Group IV (e.g. silicon and germanium) and III-V (e.g. gallium arsenide) semiconductors and alloys that (1) operates in simple aqueous and nonaqueous solutions at low (ambient) temperatures, and (2) eliminates the need for further reﬁ ning chemistry. The key advancement is the discovery of an electrochemical process that utilizes liquid metal electrodes that facilitate crystal growth at the liquid-liquid-solid interfaces. They dub this method an electrochemical liquid-liquid-solid crystal growth or ‘ec-LLS’ for short. The major premise is that certain types of liquid metals in an ec- LLS process can act simultaneously as a source of electrons for the reduction of dissolved oxidized precursors, as a separate phase for crystal nucleation and growth (i.e. solvent), and possibly as a chemical reactive species (i.e. reactant). An unintended but highly serendipitous ﬁ nding in the results to date was that the ec-LLS process could be manipulated to make semiconductor materials tailored for speciﬁ c applications. The results represent the initial development of this basic idea into a means for synthesizing crystalline silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenide. The continued focus of these efforts is to devise a disruptive technology that radically reduces the environmental impact and cost of the synthesis of technologically important semiconductors and their assembly into useful optoelectronic devices.
The achievements to date serve as the initial breakthroughs that demonstrate the concept that simple, low-tech, and non-toxic solutions are entirely compatible with crystalline semiconductor synthesis and preparation. They have shown that crystalline materials directly amenable to useful application like energy storage can be made without a large energy investment. Further, they have proven that the pre- existing dogmas against clean electrochemical routes for semiconductor manufacture are not universally true and can be bypassed altogether. The work thus far represents the ﬁ rst but necessary technological step in the re-envisioning of the semiconductor industry. A considerable amount of work is still needed to demonstrate scalability and (ultimately) marketability of the ec-LLS process as an economically competitive synthetic strategy. Nevertheless, the core scientiﬁ c tenets have been demonstrated thus far and serve as the impetus for the systematic ‘greening’ of the semiconductor industry.
Ofﬁce of Campus Sustainability University of Michigan
“Advocating and Practicing Green Chemistry leading to Sustainable Laboratories at the University of Michigan”
The Ofﬁce of Campus Sustainability (OCS) at the University of Michigan (U-M) has developed a unique program to make teaching and research labs more sustainable, while keeping in mind the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff; economic and environmental impacts; university-wide goals; and general applicability to the scientiﬁ c community. The OCS spearheaded a unique program called the Sustainable Lab Certiﬁ cation Program focused on standardizing greener practices in teaching and research laboratories. To date, OCS has evaluated nearly 60 labs through this unique program.
The OCS applied green chemistry and waste reduction principles along with operational, administrative, and behavioral controls to achieve short and long term sustainability goals in their campus laboratories. This program, developed through the participation of student groups, addresses two of the four broader University wide sustainability goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce waste being diverted to landﬁ lls. Metrics on the practice of green chemistry, reduction in waste generation, and energy usage are being tracked for the U-M Environmental Annual Report. In addition, OCS has been actively coordinating with the University teaching faculty to inculcate green chemistry and engineering principles in developing the curriculum. Consequently, many signiﬁ cant changes and improvements resulted leading to sustainability in carrying out research, teaching chemistry, biochemistry and engineering on the U-M campus.
Green chemistry, waste reduction, and pollution prevention principles have been applied effectively to achieve measurable results, including reduced consumption of energy and utilities, reduction in use and generation of hazardous materials, increase in reuse and recycling, implementing green chemistry and engineering practices, and improved safety for students, faculty, and staff. This achievement has general applicability that can be transferred to any research or teaching lab in the state of Michigan or across the globe to improve the health and safety of lab occupants while reducing impacts on the environment.
“We are pleased that the Ofﬁ ce of Campus Sustainability, University of Michigan has been selected for a Michigan Green Chemistry Governor’s Award this year. The Sustainable Lab Certiﬁ cation Program we have developed allows the lab users to implement standardized operations in their laboratories leading to safety while reducing impact on the environment. We thank Timothy Slottow, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Ofﬁ cer and Henry Baier, Associate Vice President, Facilities & Operations for their support in developing this unique program.” -Terrance Alexander, Executive Director, Occupational Safety and Environmental Health and the Ofﬁ ce of Campus Sustainability and Sudhakar G. Reddy, Ph.D., Coordinator, Sustainable Labs.
Video broadcast by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to the 2013 Michigan Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference and Michigan Green Chemistry Governor’s Awards Ceremony.