sparks group news items


June - "Commercial Marine-degradable Polymers for Flexible Packaging" accepted for publication in iScience! Congrats Amber!

June - Dr. Sparks and Dr. Oliynyk interviewed as Materials Science Section Editors for Data In Brief. Read interview here.

June - "Extracting Knowledge from DFT: Experimental Band Gap Predictions Through Ensemble Learning" accepted for publication in Integrating Materials and Manufacturing Innovation! Congrats Ka'ai and Taylor!

May - "Machine Learning for Materials Scientists: An introductory guide towards best practices" accepted to Chemistry of Materials. Read the article here.

May - "From Streetlights to Phosphors: a Review on the Visibility of Roadway Markings" accepted to Progress in Organic Coatings. Congrats Jason!


April - "Benchmark AFLOW Data Sets for Machine Learning" accepted for publication in Integrating Materials and Manufacturing Innovation! Congrats Conrad and Ka'ai! Read the article here.

April - Amber successfully defends her MS thesis and starts working at Procter & Gamble!

April - Dr. Sparks presents as a panelist for the TMS Webinar "Transitioning to Online Instruction: Tips, Tools and Techniques."

March - Dani receives an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship!


March - Sparks Research Group featured on Fox 13 News. “UDOT testing new way to make road markings easier to see”

March - "Comparison of Coatings for SrAl2O4:Eu2+,Dy3+ powder in Waterborne Road Striping Paint under Wet Conditions" accepted to Progress in Organic Coatings. Congrats Jason! Read the article here.


March - Dani successfully defends her MS thesis! She carried out an indepth analysis of dozens of HEA samples in order to build up an HEA data library for future ML model construction.

March - Jason successfully defends his MS project! His work on phosphorescent roadway markings which resist degradation from water exposure has made great strides!

February - Ryan presents "New algorithms, descriptors, and machine learning techniques tailored to the challenges of materials informatics" at the Utah Data Science Seminar series.

February - Ka'ai travels to San Diego to present an invited talk "Gaps & Gotchas in Materials Informatics" at the TMS 2020 Meeting.

February - Most of the Sparks Research Group at Red Iguana sending Anthony off as he returns home to TU Berlin. We'll miss you Anthony!

February - "Materials abundance, price, and availability data from the years 1998 to 2015" accepted for publication in Integrating Materials and Manufacturing Innovation! Congrats Brennan and Ka'ai!. Read the article here.

February - Co-PI Dr. Sparks along with PI Tallie Cassucci and Co-PI Abigail Pulsipher awarded 1U4U funding for "An investigation of pathogens on rock climbing mat materials."

February - Dr. Sparks along with co-PIs Bates and Carlson awarded NSF funding "Research experience in Utah for Sustainable Materials Engineering (ReUSE)" to establish the first ever REU Site for the Materials Science & Engineering Department at the University of Utah.

January - Dr. Sparks receives funding from Procter & Gamble to support Amber Barron's MS Thesis on hot wax-sealable sustainable packaging materials.

January - Dr. Sparks makes an appearance on the popular Discovery Channel Show "Diesel Brothers" to help them design a diesel powered ultimate wake surf boat.

January - "The Materialism podcast: Exploring new avenues for materials science education" accepted to Matter as a Matter of Opinion Article. Read the article here!


December - "Can machine learning find extraordinary materials?" accepted to Computational Materials Science. Read the article here.

December - "Landau Levels of Topologically-Protected Surface States Probed by Dual-Gated Quantum Capacitance" accepted to ACS Nano. Read the article here!

December - About half of the Sparks group braved the bitter cold to visit the SLC Christkindlmarkt and eat tasty german food.

November - Dani, Marcus, and Ryan all present at IMECE19.

Dani takes first place in her section!

November - "A review of machine learning for structural materials" accepted for publication in Annual Reviews of Materials Research.

November - Dr. Sparks presents at the Utah Energy Symposium.

October - Dr. Sparks travel to Doha Qatar to present an invited talk at the ICSEC19 conference.

October - Dani, Marcus, and Dr. Sparks travel to Idaho Falls to present at the Nuclear Materials Discovery and Qualification Initiative at Idaho National Laboratory.

October - Dr. Sparks appointed Section Editor of Materials Informatics for the journal Data In Brief.

October - Dr. Sparks travels to Boston to enjoy the fall leaves speak at the Applied Mechanics Colloquium at Harvard University and catch up with PhD advisor David Clarke!

September - Dr. Sparks travels to Portland to admire Mount Hood represent the newly merged MSE department at the University Materials Council held at MS&T2019

September - Dr. Sparks presents at TEDxSaltLakeCity. His talk was entitled "Materials Informatics: Reducing Trial & Error from the Discovery of New Materials." Watch the video here!

September - "Viewpoint: Atomic-scale design protocols towards energy, electronic, catalysis and sensing applications" accepted to the journal Inorganic Chemistry. Read it here!

August - Marcus' paper "Lattice strain and texture analysis of superhard Mo0.9W1.1BC and ReWC0.8 via diamond anvil cell deformation" accepted to Journal of Materials Chemistry A on August 30 2019 as part of the Emerging Investigators Special Issue. Read it here!

August - Husain Alnaser joins the Sparks Research Group as a PhD student working on growing single crystals of quantum materials. Welcome Husain!

August - Dr. Sparks travels to Cancun, Mexico to present an invited talk "Augmenting chemical intuition with machine learning for the discovery of new materials" at the XXVIII International Materials Research Congress.

August - "Atomic substitution to balance hardness ductility and sustainability in molybdenum tungsten borocabide" accepted to Chemistry of Materials. Read the article here.

August - Anthony Wang from TU Berlin (Aleksander Gurlo's group) joins the Sparks Research Group for an extended research exchange.

August - Dani, Marcus, Travis, and Dr. Sparks all travel to Golden Colorado to present at the North American Solid-State Chemistry Conference (NASSCC).

August - A research team led by Dr. Vikram Deshpande with Co-PI's Kang Wang, Feng Liu, and Dr. Sparks awarded $1,635,591 from the National Science Foundation Division of Materials Research to investigate "QII - TAQS: Quantum Device Engineering with Majorana Fermions in High-Quality Three-Dimensional Topological Insulator Heterostructures."

August - Dr. Sparks receives National Science Foundation funding from the Division of Materials Research along with co-PIs Nicole Benedek, Frank E. Curtis, and Daniel Fredrickson to host an upcoming workshop entitled "SSMCDAT2020: Solid-State and Materials Chemistry Data Science Hackathon."

July - Dr. Sparks serves as Chief Guest Editor for the journal Computational Materials Science special issue on "Machine learning and data-driven design of materials" along with co-guest editors Dr. Anton Oliynyk and Dr. Vitaliy Romaka.

July - "Three and Four-Electrode Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy Studies using Embedded Composite Thin Film Pseudo-Reference Electrodes in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells" accepted to the Fuel Cells, Electrolyzers, and Energy Conversion section of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society. Congrats Alex! Read the paper here!

July - "Electrochemical Studies on Na-b"-Alumina + Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia (YSZ) Mixed Na+-Ion-O2-Ion Conductors" accepted to the Fuel Cells, Electrolyzers, and Energy Conversion section of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society. Congrats Leila! Read paper here!

July - Jake travels to Shibaura Institute of Technology in Tokyo Japan for a research exchange in the Superconducting Materials Laboratory led by Dr. Muralidhar Miryala.

July - Marcus awarded an INL graduate fellowship. Congrats Marcus! He will be spending his last year of his PhD at INL working on HEA alloys for nuclear applications. Congrats Marcus!

July - Dr. Sparks awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor of Materials Science & Engineering!!!! He will also be serving as Associate Chair of the newly merged department!

July - The University of Utah Materials Science & Engineering and Metallurgical Engineering departments merged to form the new Materials Science & Engineering Department in both the College of Engineering as well as the College of Mines and Earth Sciences.

June - "Tunable coupling between surface states of a three-dimensional topological insulator in the quantum Hall regime" accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters. Read the article here.

University of Utah Unews provides a press release you can read here.

May - "Pore-graded and conductor and binder-free FeS2 films deposited by spray pyrolysis for high-performance lithium-ion batteries" accepted for publication in Journal of Materials Research. Congrats Shadi! Read the article here.

May - Dr. Sparks appears on the Discovery Channel show Diesel Brothers to help his brother, Heavy D, jump a monster truck over a flying airplane.

May- Sparks Research Group travels to southern Utah for a canyoneering trip!

May- Dr. Sparks joins the Editorial Board of Scientific Reports (Nature publishing group).

May- Ashley and Logan both successfully defend their MS theses! Congrats! Ashley is headed to the University of Utah Law School! Alex successfully defends his PhD thesis!

April- Amber Barron joins the Sparks Research Group to work on her Master's degree sponsored by Proctor and Gamble on sustainable packaging materials.

April- Dr. Sparks co-organizes the 2nd annual Workshop on Machine Learning in Materials Science. The workshop was held this year at the University of Houston with co-organizer Jakoah Brgoch. Sparks Research Group members Jake, Ka'ai, and Jason travel to present at the workshop.

April- Dr. Sparks receives INL LDRD funding along with collaborators from Idaho National Laboratory, California Nanotechnologies, and Sandia National Laboratories to investigate "Early Demonstration of Combinatorial Alloy Fabrication and FAST Irradiation Testing."

April- Marcus travels to Argonne National Laboratory to perform DAC experiments at 16-ID-B.

March- Sparks group performs outreach to the State of Utah Science Olympiad as event coordinators, as well as giving talks to ACCESS program, the Boy Scouts of America, and as the keynote for the University of Utah College of Engineering "Meet an Inventor" night.

March- Dani presents her work on cobalt availability for electric vehicles at the TMS2019 Annual Meeting in San Antonio. Her work was done as part of an NSF MRSEC REU hosted by Dr. Olivetti at MIT.

March- "High-temperature structure of Co3O4: Understanding spinel inversion using in situ and ex situ measurements" accepted to Physical Review B. Read the article here.

February- Dr. Sparks travels to Winnipeg Canada to the University of Manitoba to go ice skating present a seminar for the Department of Chemistry, the Department of Physics & Astronomy and the Manitoba Institute for Materials (MIM).

February- "Comparison of fatigue in fiber-backed PVDF and PFA fluoropolymer linings" accepted to Polymer Degradation and Stability. Congrats Ben! Read the article here.

February- Dr. Sparks and Kaai travel to UCSB to teach a 2-day machine learning bootcamp for the Materials Department.

February- Dr. Sparks travels to Caltech to present the Materials Science Colloquium.

January- Chong Lei travels to Daytona Beach FL to present at ICACC.

January- "Data-driven studies of lithium-ion-battery materials" accepted to Crystals as an invited article. Read the article here.

January- Sparks group outing to watch two members of the Sparks Research Group perform at the Urban Lounge.

January- Dr. Sparks travels to the University of Florida, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, and North Carolina State University to present at various materials and chemistry department seminars.


January- Dr. Sparks and Andrew Falkowski launch a new Materials Science podcast entitled "Materialism." Check it out on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or TuneIn.


December- "Freeze-Casting of Surface-Magnetized Iron(II,III) Oxide Particles in a Uniform Static Magnetic Field Generated by a Helmholtz Coil" published in Advanced Engineering Materials! Read the article here!

November- "Enhancement in surface mobility and quantum transport of Bi2-xSbxTe3-ySey topological insulator by controlling the crystal growth conditions" published in Scientific Reports! Read the article here!

November- Dr. Sparks travels to Las Cruces, New Mexico to present at the Physics dept seminar for NMSU.


November- "Topological Insulator-Based van der Waals Heterostructures for Effective Control of Massless and Massive Dirac Fermions" published in Nano Letters! Read the article here!

November- Dr. Sparks travels to Kuwait City, Kuwait to present at the Sixth Arab-American Frontiers of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Symposium.

October- our paper "Spray pyrolysis of conductor and binder free porous FeS2 films for high performance lithium ion batteries" was accepted to Journal of Materials Science. Read the article here.

October- our collaborative work with Arthur Mar's group entitled "Not Just Par for the Course: 73 Quaternary Germanides RE4M2XGe4 (RE = La–Nd, Sm, Gd–Tm, Lu; M = Mn–Ni; X = Ag, Cd) and the Search for Intermetallics with Low Thermal Conductivity" was accepted to Inorganic Chemistry. Read article here.

October- Dr. Sparks travels to southern California to present the Chemistry Department Colloquium at USC and Materials Department Colloquium at UCSB.

October- Dr. Sparks travels to NYU Abu Dhabi for graduate program recruitment weekend.

September- Dr. Sparks travels to BYU to present the Physics Department colloquium.

September- Dr. Sparks travels to Warsaw, Poland to present 4 talks (1 invited) at the European Materials Research Society Fall 2018 Meeting.

September- Dr. Sparks presents at the workshop on "Advancing the Development Cycle Through Intelligent Materials Design, Informatics, and Characterization" held at Colorado School of Mines.


August- Dr. Sparks receives INL LDRD funding along with collaborators from Idaho National Laboratory, Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Utah to investigate "Accelerated Nuclear Materials and Fuel Qualification by Adopting a First to Failure Approach."

August- Dr. Sparks travels to Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems (formerly Orbital ATK) to deliver the Lunch & Learn seminar. Northrop Grumman will be sponsoring Sparks Research Group research for PhD student Jason Hall!

August- Sparks group publishes 6 Engineering Education videos in JoVE's Materials Science & Engineering collection: "Hydrogel Synthesis", "Differential Scanning Calorimetry", "Thermal diffusivity and the Laser Flash Method", "Electroplating of Thin Films", "Analysis of Thermal Expansion via Dilatometry", "Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy."

July- Dr. Sparks travels to TU Berlin to give the Ceramics group seminar.

July- "Machine learning directed search for ultraincompressible, superhard materials" published in JACS. Congrats Marcus! Read article here.

July- "A revised model for thermopower and site inversion in Co3O4 spinel" accepted for publication in Physical Review B. Read article here.

July- "Calcium alginate polymer encapsulation of proppant with time-release delivery of microbial consortia for methanogenesis" published in Hydraulic Fracturing Journal.

July- Jason, Hallie, and Pooya join the Sparks research group as PhD students. Jason is sponsored by Orbital ATK and will work on mechanical properties of phenolics, Hallie and Pooya will both work on electrochemical devices.

June - Leila graduates as the first PhD from the Sparks group! Congrats to her as well as Colton and Christian who also graduated this semester with their MS degrees.

June - Sparks Group BBQ.

May - "Machine learning and energy minimization approaches for crystal structure predictions: A review and new horizons" accepted at Chemistry of Materials. Congrats Jake and Ka'ai! Read article here.


May - Leila and Alex travel to Seattle to present at the ECS Meeting 2018.

May - Dr. Sparks travels to Northwestern University to teach a class on Machine Learning for MAT 390 and to give a seminar for CHiMaD.

May - "Machine learning predictions of heat capacity for solid inorganics" accepted for publication in Integrating Materials and Manufacturing Innovation. Nice work Ka'ai, Jake, and Antonio! Read article here!

May - Congratulations to Christian and Colton who both successfully defended their MS Theses!

April - Shane and Logan both travel to Phoenix AZ to present their work at the 2018 Spring MRS Meeting.

April - Dr. Sparks travels to Colorado School of Mines to present at the Citrine MIDDMI center.

April - Inaugural "Machine Learning in Materials Science Workshop" held at the University of Utah co-hosted by Dr. Sparks and Dr. Brgoch.

April - "Cold temperature performance of phase change material based battery thermal management systems" accepted for publication in Energy Reports. Read article here.

April - "A practical field guide to thermoelectrics: fundamentals, synthesis, and characterization" accepted for publication in Applied Physics Reviews. Read article here.

April - A startup from the Sparks group, ElectroChrome reached the finalist stage of the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge and won both the People's Choice Award and the Emerging Entrepreneur Award. Nice job Logan, Christian, and Carl!

Learn more about their electrochromic films at

March - Dr. Sparks travels to the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada to give the Chemistry Department Colloquium.

March - "Synthesis and microstructural evolution in iron oxide kaolinite based proppant as a function of reducing atmosphere, sintering conditions, and composition" published in Ceramics International. Read article here.

February - Logan presents work on low temperature electrochromic films to Utah State legislators at Utah's Research on Capitol Hill event. Read article here.

February - Jake's work "Stable, Heat Conducting Phosphor Composites for High-Power Laser Lighting" published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. Read article here.

February - John's work "Potential application of developed methanogenic microbial consortia for coal biogasification" published in International Journal of Coal Geology. Read article here.

February - Logan and Zach travel to Cedar City to present at the Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research.


January - Dr. Sparks travels to TMS headquarters to discuss MDI recommendations as a member of the Materials Data Infrastructure Task Force. Read the MDI here!

January - Chong Lei joins the Sparks Research Group as a PhD student to work on mechanical fracture of electrochemical devices.

January - Dr. Maged Bekheet joins the Sparks Research Group. Dr. Bekheet receives the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst fellowship.

January - Leila and Alex attend the American Ceramic Society annual meeting in Daytona Beach Florida.
January - Dr. Sparks awarded REU supplement for undergraduates Konrad and Rosa to work on superhard materials. .
November - "Measurement of Ionic Conductivity and Electrode Polarization at Low Temperatures on 8YSZ by a DC Techniques" accepted to the Journal of the Electrochemical Society. Read the article here.

November - Dr. Sparks travels to Rabat Morocco to present "Spray pyrolysis of FeS2 for high performance lithium ion batteries" at the fifth Arab-American Frontiers Symposium of Science Engineering & Medicine.

October - "Anisotropic properties of Na-β”-Alumina+ YSZ composite synthesized by vapor phase method" accepted to Journal of Materials Research and will be published in the Annual Issue on Early Career Scholars in Materials Science. Read article here.

October - Dr. Sparks gives invited talk on machine learning in energy materials at the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science meeting SACNAS 2017 in Salt Lake City, UT Oct 19 2017.

October - Nasik travels to San Antonio, TX, to present to the Young Professionals for the Society of Petroleum Engineers International.

September - Kyu and John's work "Optimization of biogenic methane production from coal" published in International Journal of Coal Geology. Read it here!

September - Dr. Sparks awarded research award from Fisher Company to study struvite formation on fluoropolymers from wastewater.

September - Dr. Sparks gives the Computer Science Department seminar at the University of Utah.


August - Dr. Sparks awarded Co-PI subcontract for "Bio ceramics with Veterinary Affairs - Fluoroapatite compound samples for percutaneous implants and osseointegration" sponsored by the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs.

August - Kyu's work "Developing methanogenic microbial consortia from diverse coal sources and environments" published in Journal of Natural Gas Science & Engineering. Read it here.

August - Marcus travels to the ALS to perform diamond anvil cell synchrotron diffraction on superhard materials

July - Konrad selected as 1 of 4 undergrads in Citrine Informatic's very first NextGen Fellowship program where he will participate in machine learning in the Sparks Research Group
June - Marcus travels to Oak Ridge National Laboratory for Modern Methods in Rietveld Refinement for Structural Analysis workshop, June 18-23 2017.
June - Sparks Group research was highlighted in the Deseret News as part of an article on USTAR. Read more here.
June - Summer interns Alicia, Shane, and Rishabh join the Sparks Group along with new PhD student Kaai Kauwe. Welcome! Summer kickoff begins with BBQ up Millcreek Canyon.
May - Dr. Sparks travels to Arlington, VA to NSF headquarters for Advancing and Accelerating Materials Innovation through the Synergistic Interaction among Computation, Experiment, and Theory: Opening New Frontiers Workshop May 18-19 2017.
May - Marcus travels to Florida for a machine learning workshop hosted by UCF.  
April - Ben Gilmore wins first place and Christian Robert and Tom Folke win second place in the MSE Senior Design Competition. See Ben's poster here and Christian and Tom's poster here. Three years in a row that Sparks Group members win 1st place with either 2nd or 3rd as well!
March - Dr. Sparks travels to Pittsburgh to present at the 2017 NETL Project Review Meeting.  
March - Dr. Sparks appears on the Discovery Channel show Diesel Brothers to help his brother, Heavy D, build a somersaulting truck. Watch episode here.


March - "Growth and characterization of Arsenic doped CdTe single crystals grown by Cd-solvent traveling-heater method" published in Journal of Crystal Growth. Read article here.
March - Benjamin Gilmore awarded the 2017 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award for the College of Engineering! This is the second year in a row an undergrad from the Sparks Research Group has won this award! Read more here.

update: Ben also awarded the 2017 ASUU Individual Dedication to Research Award! Congrats Ben!
February - Dr. Sparks joins the Editorial Board of Integrating Materials and Manufacturing Innovation (IMMI) as well as the Scientific Advisory Board for Citrine Informatics.

February - Dr. Sparks travels to the University of Florida to eat aligator tacos give the Materials Science & Engineering Department Seminar. (2/21/17)
February - Citrine Informatics comes to visit the Sparks Research Group for the first ever "Powered by Citrine" hackathon!
February - Our article "Perspective: Web–based machine learning models for real–time screening of thermoelectric materials properties" was one of the top 10 most read from 2016 in APL Materials!
January - Dr. Sparks travels to Daytona Beach, FL to present an invited talk on "A recommendation engine for suggestion unexpected thermoelectric chemistries: Prediction and validation" at the International Conference and Exposition on Advanced Ceramics and Composites, American Ceramic Society.
January - Dr. Sparks presents for the Undergraduate Research Education Series as well as the Engineering Scholars Program "How to Create an Effective Scientific Research Poster" (Jan 17th and Jan 19th)  
November - Dr. Sparks awarded a $580,000 NSF CAREER award for "CAREER: SusChEM: Data Mining to Reduce the Risk in Discovering New Sustainable Thermoelectric Materials" in the Solid State Materials Chemistry Program.
October - "Teaching Innovation in Materials Science & Engineering" published in the conference proceedings from the American Society for Engineering Education 2016 meeting in Cedar City, UT. Read article here.
October - Sparks Group presents at MS&T conference in Salt Lake City. Talks given on dialysis biomaterials, new materials discovery, PEMFC fuel cell electrode polarization measurement, fluoropolymer fatigue, biogasifcation, and batteries. Leila's poster wins 3rd place in the Graduate Poster Contest! Congratulations Leila! See poster here and read about it here.
September - "High-Throughput Machine-Learning-Driven Synthesis of Full-Heusler Compounds" published in Chemistry of Materials. Read article here.
September - "Balancing mechanical properties and sustainability in the search for superhard materials" accepted to Integrating Materials and Manufacturing Innovation. Read article here.
August - "Enhancement of Thermoelectric Properties in the Nb--Co--Sn Half-Heusler/Heusler System Through Spontaneous Inclusion of a Coherent Second Phase" published in Journal of Applied Physics. Read article here.
August - Suzie wins the University of Utah MRSEC REU poster competition. Great job Suzie!
July - Dr. Sparks attends Gordon Research Conference on Solid State Chemistry and he and Jake both attend Summer School for Thermoelectrics. (photo credit Ram and Birgit.)
June - Dr. Sparks and Leila Ghadbeigi along with team members Anton Oliynyk, Arthur Mar, Bryce Meredig, Michael Gaultois, and Erin Antono receive $5,000 award as runners up in AFRL Materials Science and Engineering Data Challenge! Read more here.
June - PhD student Marcus Parry joins the Sparks Research Group to work on superhard materials.
June - "Gd12Co5.3Bi1 and Gd12Co5Bi1 Crystalline Dopplegänger with Low Thermal Conductivites" published in Inorganic Chemistry. Read article here.
May - Sparks group presents talks and posters at the 2016 Governor's Energy Summit.
May - "Synthesis of Ion Conducting Sodium Zirconium Gallate + Yttria- Stabilized Zirconia by a Vapor Phase Process” published to Journal of the Electrochemical Society. Read article here.
May - "High thermopower with metallic conductivity in p type Li-substituted PbPdO2" published in Chemistry of Materials. Read article here.
May - "Web-based machine learning models for real-time screening of thermoelectric materials properties" accepted to APL Materials. Read more here. Selected as cover article!

May - "Synthesis of iron-doped Na-β-alumina + yttria-stabilized zirconia composite electrolytes by a vapor phase process" published in Solid State Ionics. Great job Leila and Alex! Read the article here.
May - Dr. Shadi Al Khateeb wins Arab Research Fund to join the Sparks group as a postdoc for a year. He will be doing research on spray pyrolosis of battery electrodes.
April - Ben travels to New Orleans to present at the International Conference on Plastic Welding and Joining Apr 25-27 2016.
April - Garrett Meeks and Jason Dalton win first place and Brandon Day and Kristina Lundgren win third place in MSE Senior Design competition. See Brandon and Kristina's poster here. Two years in a row we take 1st and 3rd!
April - Prof. Sparks awarded $25,000 for academia-industry partnership with Ceramatec, Inc. for development of "Flexible and Laminable Adjustable Tint Films."
April - Collaborative research awards of $270,000 and $250,000 are awarded to Prof. Brgoch (Univ. Houston) and Prof. Sparks, respectively through the National Science Foundation CMMI Division, MEP program for research on "Collaborative Research: Guided Discovery of Sustainable Superhard Materials via Bond Optimization."
March - Patrick travels to Phoenix to present his paper "Exploration of Polytetrafluoroethylene as a Potential Material Replacement for Hemodialysis Applications" at the 2016 MRS Spring Meeting.
March - Kristina Lundgren awarded the 2016 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award for the College of Engineering! Congrats Kristina! Read more here.
March - Dr. Sparks among 20 faculty to receive the 2016 Career Services Faculty Recognition Award for "faculty members who are contributing to students career development and exploration." Read more here and here.
March - "Perspective: Interactive materials properties databases through aggregation of literature data" published in APL Materials.
February - Brandon and Kristina present at UCUR
February - "A Functionally-Graded Carbide in the Ta-C System" selected as featured article for February 2016 issue in the Journal of the American Ceramic Society.
January - Leila travels to Daytona Beach, FL to present her talk "Synthesis of sodium zirconium gallate + yttria-stabilized zirconia by a vapor phase process" at the International Conference and Exposition on Advanced Ceramics and Composites, American Ceramic Society.
January - "Use of Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia for Potentiometric Measurements at Low Temperatures" accepted for publication in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society in the Fuel Cells, Electrolyzers, and Energy Conversion section. Available here.
January - Dr. Sparks presents for the Undergraduate Research Education Series "How to Create an Effective Scientific Research Poster" (Sill Center Conference Room, Jan 21 1:30-2:30)  
December - Brandon and Kristina travel with Prof. Sparks to the Boston 2015 MRS Fall Meeting where they gave talks on phase change materials and thermoelectrics. Prof. Sparks also gave the Chemical Engineering Department seminar at Northeastern University and then the College of Engineering seminar at Montana State University at Bozeman.
December - Electrochromic windows research media coverage on and the Deseret News. Congrats Max, Carina, Nic, and Jeffrey!

November - Kristina Lundgren and Brandon Day awarded $1600 from the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute Get Seeded event to purchase a Flir E5 Thermal Imaging Camera for their phase change materials research. Congrats!

Update: They won a second round for 440$ to purchase PCM materials. Congrats!

October - PhD student Jake Graser join the Sparks Research Group.
October - "A Functionally-Graded Carbide in the Ta-C System" published in the Journal of the American Ceramic Society. See article here.
October - The Electrochrome LLC team (Jeffrey Copeland, Max Gallant, Carina Hahn, and Nic Flinner) wins a $15,000 Governor's Energy Leadership Scholars grant from the Utah Energy Research Triangle to do research in the Sparks Group on "Scalable deposition method of electrochromic coatings for energy efficient windows."
October - Prof. Sparks presents at the 2015 Pittsburgh Coal Conference.  
September - "Single-step preparation and consolidation of reduced early-transition-metal oxide/metal n-type thermoelectric composites" published in AIP Advances. See article here.
August - Prof. Sparks along with co-PIs Prof. Nick Roberts of USU and Prof. Jones of BYU are awarded the Utah's Principle Energy Initiative Program ($125,000) as part of the Energy Research Triangle for "Optimized power harvesting with tunable thermoelectric generators."
August - Prof. Sparks and Kyu present at the DOE C/CBTL Workshop held in Morgantown, WV and Leila presents "Data mining approach for battery materials" at IEEE SusTech in Ogden, UT on Aug 1
August - MRSEC REU intern, Katie Sautter, presents her summer research at the MRSEC REU symposium.
July - Profs Shetty and Sparks awarded grant on "Characterization of SiC and Si3N4 for Honeywell International," from Honeywell International, from 07/15/2015 - 10/15/2015
July - the Sparks group (minus a few) enjoying a summer BBQ.
June - Prof. Sparks partcipates in the NSF Future of Graduate Education in Materials Workshop held at UCSB.
May - Dr. Kyu Han graduates with his PhD! Congrats! Summer interns join the sparks group from San Jose State University, Pennsylvania State University, and Sao Paulo University! Welcome!  
May - "Datamining our way to the next generation of thermoelectrics" published as invited Viewpoint Set article in Scripta Materialia online on May 15 2015.

April - Sparks group undergrads win first place and third place at the MSE Senior Project banquet! Congrats to Colton Fox, Max Gallant, and Nic Flinner.

click here for Colton's poster, and here for Nic and Max's poster.

April - Leila presents the results of her Governor's Energy Scholars research at the UCAP announcement on capitol hill.

March - "Performance and resource considerations of Li-ion battery electrode materials" published in Energy and Environmental Science! Great job Leila! Update: selected as rear cover article!


March - Leila presents at the ACS meeting in Denver (Materials & Interfaces in Lithium Batteries & Beyond). Prof. Sparks presents at the TMS meeting in Orlando (Integrative Materials Design II: Performance and Sustainability).
March - Professor Sparks awarded Fisher Company research grant to investigate mechanical properties of fluoropolymer vessel liners. Fisher Company
February - Professor Sparks traveled to Argonne National Laboratory to use the Advanced Photon Source 11-BM beamline with collaborator Anton Oliynyk from U Alberta. chicago
January - Professor Sparks awarded grant on "Characterization of steel blanks for copper refining," from Rio Tinto Group, Kennecott Utah Copper, from 01/10/2015 - 03/10/2015
January - Professor Sparks awarded DARPA SIMPLEX grant on "Data-driven discovery of novel thermoelectric materials," Department of Defense, from 04/01/2015 - 06/30/2018
December - Professors Sparks and Deshpande awarded the MRSEC seed on "Layered Topological Insulators in the 2D Limit," $35,000 from 01/01/2015 - 12/31/2015.
November - Postdoctoral researcher Kyu Bum Han joins the Sparks group. Kyu specializes in biomaterials and carbon based nanomaterials. He will be working on ceramic proppant design for microbially enhanced methane recovery.
October - Professor Sparks publishes Op-Ed "Energy leadership scholars program provides unique research opportunities" on, and  
September - Professor Sparks awarded DOE project "Ceramic proppant design for in-situ microbial enhanced methane recovery," National Energy Technology Laboratory, Department of Energy, $464,390 from 10/1/2014 - 09/30/2016
June - Professor Sparks appointed new Director of the Materials Characterization Lab replacing Dr. Sygnatowicz.  
June - Leila and Matt presented posters at the Governor's Energy Summit and collected their giant checks for $15,000 each!

matt judge award
leila ghadbeigi award

June - Matt, Carl, Ian, Mikal and Garrett all won UROP funding!  
May - Sparks Group awarded University of Utah Seed Grant funding to research "Evaluation of cold temperature performance of PCM based thermal management system in hybrid electric vehicles"
May - Alexander Szendrei joins the Sparks Research Group as a PhD candidate researching non-equilibrium thermodynamics in electrochemical and thermoelectric systems. Alex also received the ARCS Fellowship!
April - Dr. Jeff Bates joins the Sparks Research Group as a postdoctoral reseacher. Colton fox also joins as a BS/MS student sponsored by US Synthetic. Welcome Jeff and Colton!

March - "How much improvement in thermoelectric performance can come from reducing thermal conductivity?" published in Applied Physics Letters
January - Leila Ghadbeigi and Mattew Judge both win the Governor's Energy Leadership Scholars Program receiving $15,000 each to do research in the Sparks research group! Leila's project is entitled "Evaluation of cold temperature of PCM based TMS in hybrid electric vehicles" and Matt's project is entitled "High-performance Mg2Si nanostructured thermoelectric materials"
January - Emily Timmons and Ian Robinson join the Sparks research group as undergraduate researchers. Emily's research is funded by a College of Engineering Scholarship.

December - Group Holiday lunch at Red Iguana with TA's from MSE 2010 red iguana
December - "Magnetocapacitance as a sensitive probe of magnetostructural changes in NiCr2O4" published in Physical Review B.
September - Leila Ghadbeigi joins the Sparks research group as the first graduate student! Leila has an M.S. in Civil Engineering from Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran, Iran and will be working on functional oxide materials and datamining for the same. gaultois sparks chem mat cover
August - "Data-driven review of thermoelectric materials: Performance and resource considerations" selected as the cover article of the August 2013 issue of Chemistry of Materials. gaultois sparks chem mat cover
July - Prof. Sparks appointed Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Utah