LSU Chemistry professor receives prestigious Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award

June 17, 2024

Dr. Slava Baranets

Assistant Professor Sviatoslav Baranets 

BATON ROUGE, LA -  Assistant Professor Sviatoslav Baranets from the LSU Department of Chemistry received a 2024 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award through the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU). The award recognizes Baranets’ project exploring the structural and electronic properties of Zintl Pnictides under high-pressure conditions.

Zintl Pnictides are a unique class of quantum materials known for their polyanionic frameworks of varying dimensionalities, charge-balanced by electropositive metal cations. Unlike intermetallic compounds, which primarily feature metallic bonding, Zintl phases exhibit a mix of ionic and covalent bonding. They possess rich structural chemistry and diverse properties, making them promising materials for various applications, including electrocatalysis, energy storage, and energy conversion. 

Through high-pressure chemistry, Baranets and his research group will investigate how crystal structures and transport properties of Zintl Pnictides respond to high-pressure conditions. By applying high pressure, they aim to induce changes in the atomic level, alter chemical bonding, and explore the evolution of polyanionic sublattices, which can reveal novel quantum phenomena leading to discoveries of novel high-performance thermoelectric materials, topological states, or superconductors. 

Ultimately, the Baranets group hopes to discover and enhance the thermoelectric capabilities and performance of Zintl Pnictides, providing insights that could drive the development of next-generation electronic devices and energy technologies. The project will also bring high-pressure single-crystal X-ray crystallography expertise to LSU and the State of Louisiana. 

The Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award program provides crucial seed funding for early-career faculty at ORAU member institutions to enhance their research efforts. Each award comes with matching funds from the recipient’s institution, allowing awardees to purchase essential equipment, advance their research projects, and travel to professional conferences and meetings. 

The award is highly competitive and prestigious, testifying to the high caliber of research and scholarly excellence that LSU consistently cultivates. Past Powe award recipients at LSU include Michal Brylinski (2012) and Karen Maruska (2013) in Biological Sciences; Donghui Zhang (2009), Kenneth Lopata (2015), Tuo Wang (2019), and Fatima Rivas (2021) in Chemistry; Francisco Hung (2008), Michael Benton (2009), Ying Wang (2010), Celalettin Emre Ozdemir (2015), Hai Lin (2020) in Engineering; and Asha Winfield (2022) in the School of Mass Communication. 

To learn more about the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, visit the Oak Ridge Associated Universities website