Early in the next decade, the first computers capable of at least one quintillion calculations per second will come online at Argonne National Laboratory. Phanish Suryanarayana in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering is leading a team on a new project to make use of all those processors to study the interactions of atoms using quantum mechanics, building on computer code his team has developed in recent years. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the four-year, $2.8 million study — if everything goes well, as Suryanarayana puts it — will mean scientists can study and understand chemical systems that include up to 10 million atoms.
In the next two decades, the world faces a yawning gap in the energy we produce and the energy we consume. The School of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Sheng Dai is working with the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy on one of the renewable sources that could help us make up ground: geothermal energy.
Sheng Dai arrived in Atlanta just a week before classes began for the fall 2015 semester, and it was really a homecoming of sorts. Dai is the newest faculty member in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, arriving after two years at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. But before that, he spent half a decade in the School, earning his doctorate in civil engineering. He finished in 2013.