Jacob L. Jones and Paul Westerhoff

Phosphorus Sustainability: A New Center & Opportunities for Synchrotron X-rays

April 26, 2022 at 10:30AM CST

Hosted by Alisa Paterson


Phosphorus Sustainability: A New Center & Opportunities for Synchrotron X-rays

Jacob L. Jones

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, NC State University

Paul Westerhoff

School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University


Phosphorus (P) underpins the productivity of food systems as a key nutrient in fertilizers. Yet the sustainability of P is understood as a wicked problem. A paradigm shift is therefore needed in how we discover and develop materials, technologies, and strategies to control, recover, reuse, and manage phosphorus. In this presentation, we will introduce the Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability (STEPS) Center, a recently announced, U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported Science and Technology Center (STC). STEPS is a convergence research center that addresses the complex challenges in phosphorus sustainability by integrating disciplinary contributions across the physical, life, social, and economic sciences. Importantly, STEPS research integrates through 17 orders of magnitude in length scale – from atomistic and molecular scales (which can often be interrogated using X-rays) - to scales at which humans interact with technology (e.g., farms, watersheds, wastewater treatment plants) - to global scales (e.g., ecology, international trade). We will present several opportunities for research using synchrotron X-rays, e.g., through diffraction and total scattering, spectroscopy, and tomography, to study inorganic and organic phosphorus. Moreover, we will reinforce how physical and life science research is significantly enhanced through deeply transdisciplinary, integrative approaches, i.e., convergence. Visit us at www.steps-center.org and on Twitter @STEPS_STC.


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