Phase 3 (2007 Deadline)
Development of a Materials Connection Center
Rick Ubic, Boise State University
Yaseen Iqbal, University of Peshawar
Pakistani Funding (HEC): $ 188,000
US Funding (USAID): $ 254,000
Project Dates on US Side: April 1, 2008 - September 30, 2011
No matter how many valuable natural resources a country may have, those resources are useless without the necessary expertise and technology to locate, extract, and process them. Ensuring that resources produce the maximum value added also requires creativity and innovation to develop affordable products for local and global markets. Achieving these goals requires cooperation not only among researchers but also with representatives of industry, government, and investors. This project has created a Materials Connection Center at the University of Peshawar to bring together the expertise, technology, and relevant stakeholders to harness Pakistan's considerable mineral resources most effectively
The labs at the new center are equipped with instruments for characterizing and processing minerals, and the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province has provided supplemental funds for construction of a building to house the equipment. Recently funds from this project have supported the creation of a pilot plant for electroextraction of minerals from ores. Four Pakistani graduate students were supported by the project, with four others also involved in the research efforts focused on functional ceramics. Dr. Ubic and Dr. Iqbal have used videoconferencing to jointly teach two semester-long courses, with students participating from both Boise State and the University of Peshawar. On the research side, work has focused on analyzing local mineral samples, with the experiments being performed both at the University of Peshawar and at Boise State, where Dr. Iqbal has had the opportunity to make one-month visits during the summers of 2009, 2010, and 2011. The results of the research are being collected in a new database of available mineral resources, with special emphasis on those that either have a large export potential and/or the most domestic relevance. It is hoped that the Materials Connection Center will serve as a platform for researchers, industrialists, and investors to share their knowledge and expertise in seeking better ways of utilizing the mineral, human, and technical resources of the region, and so far it has served as a venue for regular conferences and meetings of stakeholders. The project has already spurred a memorandum of understanding between the University of Peshawar and the Peshawar Medical and Dental College to develop research projects in the field of dental materials.
- Established the eponymous Materials Connection Center at the University of Peshawar, which supports four Pakistani graduate students directly involved in this project, four others working on functional ceramics, and several MSc students in solid-state physics
- Hosted three exchange visits by the Pakistani principal investigator to Boise State University
- Organized the course “Bonding, Crystallography, and Crystal Defects,” which was delivered via video conferencing to approximately 35 students at Boise State and the Institute of Physics and Electronics at the University of Peshawar
- Installed a laboratory-scale electrowinning and mineral upgradation pilot plant at Peshawar, which has inspired several other Pakistani institutions to develop similar plants
- Acknowledged on four publications (one still in press) with several others in preparation
- Organized a seminar and regular joint meetings in Pakistan with representatives from various industries, universities, and R&D institutions involved and carried out a national conference in the United States in 2010
- Obtained additional funding for equipment to support this project from the US Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Engineering via its NEUP Infrastructure Support program
Dr. Iqbal made the third annual exchange visit to BSU from June 13 through July 21, 2011, during which he and Dr. Ubic analyzed samples and prepared their results for publication. Dr. Ubic presented some of their recent results at the Pacific Rim Conference on Ceramic and Glass Technology, to be held in Queensland, Australia from July 10 – 14, 2011. The project ended on the US side as of September 30, 2011. Nevertheless, Dr. Iqbal and Dr. Ubic expect to offer a distance-learning course on functional materials in the autumn of 2011 or spring 2012 in order to simultaneously maintain their collaborative momentum and help Peshawar students enrolled in electroceramic projects jointly supervised by the two PIs.
Progress Report Summaries
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2010 Show summary || Hide summary
In 2010, the structural characterization of the mineral samples continued both at the University of Peshawar (UoP) and Boise State University (BSU). Individual projects based on the minerals examined were devised for each of the students according to objective 4 and objective 5. Dr. Iqbal was able to conduct some of the transmission electron microscopy (TEM) work himself during his visit from June 4 to July 5, 2010, but it was mostly carried out by Dr. Lii-Cherng (Daniel) Leu, a full-time postdoctoral research assistant at BSU. During Dr. Iqbal's visit, collaborative work involved in this project and others was the focus of several manuscripts prepared for submission to international journals of science and engineering.
Security concerns prevented the BSU team from travelling to UoP again this year; therefore, the course on crystallography was delivered to UoP students via live video-conferencing in the fall of 2010. A total of 13 graduate physics students at UoP and 15 undergraduate materials science students at BSU attended the class. Thirty class sessions were held from August to December, with each individual lecture recorded and available online for the benefits of all students. There were four graduate students working on projects directly related on this grant at UoP, and an additional four students are jointly supervised in projects related to electroceramics.
During 2010, regular joint meetings with the Department of Mining, UET Peshawar; Department of Geology, UoP, and the KPK S&T Directorate were held for the development of joint activities. A building to house the lab space was constructed at UoP, and the equipment for it was procured.
Regarding publications, a manuscript on the microstructural and phase characterization of minerals in northern and northwestern Pakistan was prepared and revised. Seven posters showcasing the results of the first two years were presented at the Pak-US Projects Exhibition on June 9, 2010, at the Higher Education Commission, Islamabad. Graduate students were expected to submit their work for publication during the last quarter of their projects. Both PIs worked hard to train their research assistants. A paper presented by Mr. Fahad at the last EMAG meeting has been published in Journal of Physics: Conference Series. Dr. Ubic gave a presentation titled "Structure & Properties of Apatite - Type Rare-Earth Silicates" at the 6th Microwave Materials and their Applications Conference in Poland (September 2010) and at the YUCOMAT conference in Montenegro (September 2010).
2009 Show summary || Hide summary
In the spring of 2009 Dr. Iqbal and his team began collecting samples in the field for analysis at both UOP and BSU. Drs. Ubic and Iqbal have also worked with their graduate students to design individual PhD projects for each of them that will promote their academic growth and training as well as help identify promising mineral resources for development.
Dr. Iqbal made a one-month visit to BSU beginning June 8, 2009. He and Dr. Ubic worked to analyze a collection of mineral samples that the former had brought from Pakistan and collaborated to plan the curriculum for a joint course to be offered in the fall 2009 semester. The original plans for this project had called for Dr. Ubic to deliver training workshops in person, but the security situation in Pakistan and particularly in Peshawar led him and Dr. Iqbal to explore possibilities for offering the training via distance learning. After all the technical and administrative issues were resolved, the semester-long course, entitled MSE 305 Bonding, Crystallography, and Crystal Defects, began on August 25, 2009, with the course meeting twice weekly until mid-December. Two-way videoconferencing allowed interaction between the students and Dr. Iqbal at University of Peshawar and Dr. Ubic back in Boise. Eighteen students took the course, which introduced them to the language, nomenclature, and tools of crystallography and demonstrated how structure determines properties in a variety of materials systems.
2008 Show summary || Hide summary
By the end of 2008, the Materials Connection Center had already been inaugurated at UOP, equipment tenders had been placed, and four research assistants had been hired, all of them being master’s degree students on track to eventually obtain PhDs. They gathered all available information on the mineralogy of the four zones of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly known as the Northwest Frontier Province) in order to develop a new resource database.
A few of the many mineral samples collected for analysis at the Materials Connection Center.
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