2013 Professional Progress Award Lecture | AIChE

This award lecture will be presented by Dr. Brian Korgel, winner of the 2012 Professional Progress Award.

At Least 1,000X Thinner than a Human Hair

Brian A. Korgel, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering, Director, Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Next Generation, The University of Texas at Austin

The last century witnessed the development of two classes of materials—polymers and semiconductors—that dramatically changed people’s lives.  A new class of materials—nanomaterials—has emerged with the potential to create a wide range of new technologies because of their unique combination of properties.  For example, semiconductor nanowires have attributes of polymers like mechanical flexibility, light-weight and low cost, combined with the useful electronic and optical properties of semiconductors into one material.  Nanowires can be embedded in polymer hosts, spun into fibers, or dispersed in solvents and printed on substrates like organic materials.  They might be utilized to create functional textiles with unprecedented capability, such as fabrics with impressive structural integrity capable of generating power from the sun as in a photovoltaic device or store energy in the form of a battery.  Nanocrystals of various semiconductors can also be made and formulated into paint that can be used to deposit semiconductor films at low cost onto large-area, mechanically flexible and light-weight substrates for a next generation of low-cost solar cells.  This presentation will highlight nanomaterials we have been studying for lithium ion battery and photovoltaics applications in particular and some of the challenges facing commercial use.