Symposium X

Monday - Thursday, November 28 - December 1
12:15 - 1:30 pm (NOTE: Wednesday session begins at Noon)
Sheraton Hotel, Level 2, Grand Ballroom

Symposium X:  Frontiers of Materials Research will feature lunchtime lectures aimed at a broad audience to provide meeting attendees with an overview of leading-edge topics.

  • Monday, Nov. 28 - Materials Genome Initiative
  • Tuesday, Nov. 29 - eXtremes of Heat Conduction?Pushing the Boundaries of the Thermal Conductivity of Materials
  • Wednesday, Nov. 30 - MRS Medalists Talk Sessions: Semiconductor Nanowires for Solar Energy Conversion and From Nanogenerators to Piezotronics–A Decade Study of ZnO Nanostructures
  • Thursday, December 1 - Sahara Solar Breeder Plans: Look Forward to Sustainable Future Energy from Deserts

Monday, November 28

 12:15 - 1:30 pm
Sheraton Hotel, Level 2, Grand Ballroom 

Harriet Kung, Ph.D.
Director, Basic Energy Sciences
U.S. Department of Energy
Ian Robertson, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Materials Research
National Science Foundation
Cyrus Wadia, Ph.D.
Assistant Director, Clean Energy & Materials R&D
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Talk Presentation: Materials Genome Initiative 

The Materials Genome Initiative was launched by President Obama in June, 2011 to address the long timeframes for incorporating advanced materials into practice. This effort will: (1) create a new materials-innovation infrastructure, (2) drive achievement of national goals with advanced materials, and (3) prepare the next-generation materials workforce. This initiative offers a unique opportunity for the United States to discover, develop, manufacture, and deploy advanced materials at least twice as fast as is possible today at a fraction of the cost.

View the slides from this presentation 


Tuesday, November 29

David G. Cahill, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

David G. Cahill, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

12:15 - 1:30 pm
Sheraton Hotel, Level 2, Grand Ballroom  

David G. Cahill
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Talk Presentation: eXtremes of Heat Conduction?Pushing the Boundaries of the Thermal Conductivity of Materials

Prof. David Cahill joined the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1991, after earning his PhD in condensed matter physics from Cornell University in 1989, and working as a postdoctoral research associate at the IBM Watson Research Center. In 2005, he was named Willett Professor of Engineering; in 2010, he was appointed head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. His research program focuses on developing a microscopic understanding of thermal transport at the nanoscale; the development of new methods of materials processing and analysis using ultrafast optical techniques; and advancing fundamental understanding of interfaces between materials and water. He received the Peter Mark Memorial Award from the American Vacuum Society (AVS); is a fellow of the AVS and the American Physical Society (APS); and is vice-chair of the division of materials physics of the APS.


Thermal conductivity is a basic and familiar property of materials: silver spoons conduct heat well and plastic does not. In recent years, an interdisciplinary group of materials scientists, engineers, physicists, and chemists have succeeded in pushing back long-established limits in the thermal conductivity of materials. Carbon nanotubes are at the high end of the thermal conductivity spectrum due to their high sound velocities and relative lack of processes that scatter phonons. Unfortunately, the superlative thermal properties of nanotubes have not found immediate application in composites or interface materials because of difficulties in making good thermal contact with nanotubes, i.e., the thermal conductance of interfaces with nanotubes is often very small. At the low end of the thermal conductivity spectrum, solids that combine order and disorder in the random stacking of two-dimensional crystalline sheets, so-called “disordered layered crystals,” show a thermal conductivity that is only a factor of 2 larger than air. The cause of this low thermal conductivity may be explained by the large anisotropy in elastic constants that suppresses the density of phonon modes that propagate along the soft direction. Low-dimensional quantum magnets demonstrate that electrons and phonons are not the only significant carriers of heat. Near room temperature, the spin thermal conductivity of spin-ladders is comparable to the electronic thermal conductivities of pure metals. Our measurements of nanoscale thermal transport properties employ a variety of ultrafast optical pump-probe metrology tools that we have developed over the past several years. We are currently working to extend these techniques to high pressures (60 GPa) , high magnetic fields (5 T), and high temperatures (1000 K).

Wednesday, November 30

2011 MRS Medal Winners Peidong Yang and ZL Wang

Peidong Yang - University of California, Berkeley and ZL Wang, Georgia Institute of Technology



 12:05 - 1:35 pm
Sheraton Hotel, Level 2, Grand Ballroom 

 12:05 - 12:45 pm
Peidong Yang
(view bio)
University of California, Berkeley 
Semiconductor Nanowires for Solar Energy Conversion (view abstract)

12:45 - 1:25 pm
Z.L. Wang
(view bio)
Georgia Institute of Technology
From Nanogenerators to Piezotronics–A Decade Study of ZnO Nanostructures (view abstract)

 Peidong Yang Biography 

Peidong Yang received a BS in chemistry from University of Science and Technology of China (1993) and a PhD in chemistry from Harvard University (1997). He did postdoctoral research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, before joining the Department of Chemistry faculty at the University of California, Berkeley (1999). He is currently a professor in the Department of Chemistry, Materials Science and Engineering, and a senior faculty scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Yang is the Department Head/North Site Director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) at LBNL. He is the deputy director for the Center of Integrated Nanomechanical Systems. Yang is an associate editor for the Journal of the American Chemical Society and also serves on the editorial advisory boards for a number of journals, including Acct. Chem. Res. and Nano. Lett.

The founder of the Nanoscience subdivision within the American Chemical Society (ACS), Yang has also co-founded two startups, Nanosys Inc., and Alphabet Energy, Inc. He is the recipient of the Materials Research Society (MRS) Medal; the Baekeland Medal; the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship; the Arnold and Mabel Beckman, National Science Foundation, and MRS Young Investigator Awards; the Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics; the ACS Pure Chemistry Award; and the Alan T. Waterman Award. He was recently elected an MRS Fellow. According to ISI (Thomas Reuters), for the past decade, Yang has been ranked number one in materials science and number ten in chemistry based on average citations per paper. His main research interest is in the area of one-dimensional semiconductor nanostructures and their applications in nanophotonics and energy conversion. 

 Peidong Yang Abstract 

Semiconductor nanowires represent an important class of nanostructure building block for photovoltaics as well as direct solar-to-fuel application, because of their high surface area, tunable bandgap, light-trapping capabilities, and efficient charge transport and collection. The generation of fuels by the direct conversion of solar energy in a fully integrated system is an attractive goal; however, no such system has been demonstrated that shows the required efficiency, is sufficiently durable, or can be manufactured at reasonable cost. It requires major research advancement in the area of semiconductor light absorber and catalyst discovery. One of the most critical issues in solar water splitting is the development of a suitable photo-anode with high efficiency and long-term durability in an aqueous and photo-oxidative environment. Nanowires can be readily designed and synthesized to deterministically incorporate heterojunctions with improved light absorption, charge separation, and vectorial charge transport. High surface-area nanowire arrays can serve as photocathodes and photo-anodes within an artificial photosynthetic system. Meanwhile, it is also possible to selectively decorate different oxidation or reduction catalysts onto specific segments of the nanowires to mimic the compartmentalized reactions in natural photosynthesis. The bottom-up synthetic approach for the semiconductor nanowires also enables several important principles of sustainability in materials and technology development, namely, using earth-abundant elements and using less energy-intensive processes. In this talk, I will highlight several recent examples from this lab, using semiconductor nanowires and their heterostructures for the purpose of solar-to-electricity and solar-to-chemical energy conversion. 

Zhong Lin (Z.L.) Wang Biography 

Dr. Zhong Lin (ZL) Wang received his PhD from Arizona State University in 1987. He now is the Hightower Chair in Materials Science and Engineering, Regents' Professor, Engineering Distinguished Professor and Director, Center for Nanostructure Characterization, at Georgia Tech. Dr. Wang is a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, fellow of American Physical Society, fellow of AAAS, fellow of Microscopy Society of America and fellow of Materials Research Society. Dr. Wang has made original and innovative contributions to the synthesis, discovery, characterization and understanding of fundamental physical properties of oxide nanobelts and nanowires, as well as applications of nanowires in energy sciences, electronics, optoelectronics and biological science. He is a world leader in studying ZnO nanostructures. His discovery and breakthroughs in developing nanogenerators establish the principle and technological road map for harvesting mechanical energy from environment and biological systems for powering a personal electronics. His research on self-powered nanosystems has inspired the worldwide effort in academia and industry for studying energy for micro-nano-systems. He coined and pioneered the field of piezotronics and piezo-phototronics by introducing piezoelectric potential gated charge transport process in fabricating new electronic and optoelectronic devices. This breakthrough by redesign CMOS transistor has important applications in smart MEMS/NEMS, nanorobotics, human-electronics interface and sensors. Dr. Wang’s publications have been cited for over 44,000 times. The H-index of his citations is 101. Details can be found at:   

Zhong Lin (Z.L.) Wang Abstract 

Developing wireless nanodevices and nanosystems is of critical importance for sensing, medical science, environmental/infrastructure monitoring, defense technology, and even personal electronics. It is highly desirable for wireless devices to be self powered without using battery, without which most of the sensor network may be impossible. The piezoelectric nanogenerators that we developed have the potential to serve as self-sufficient power sources for micro-/nanosystems. For wurtzite structures that have non-central symmetry, such as ZnO, GaN and InN, a piezoelectric potential (piezopotential) is created in the crystal by applying a strain. The nanogenerator is invented by using the piezopotential as the driving force for electrons to flow in responding to a dynamic straining of piezoelectric nanowires. A gentle straining can produce an output voltage of up to 20-40 V from an integrated nanogenerator. Furthermore, piezopotential in the wurtzite structure can serve as a “gate” voltage that can effectively tune/control the charge transport across an interface/junction; electronics based on such a mechanism are coined as piezotronicsI, with applications in force/pressure triggered/controlled electronic devices, sensors, logic units and memory. By using the piezotronic effect, we show that the optoelectronc devices fabricated using wurtzite materials can give superior performance as solar cell, photon detector, and light-emitting diode. Piezotronic is likely to serve as a “mediator” for directly interfacing biomechanical action with silicon-based technology.

Thursday, December 1

Hideomi Koinuma - 2011 MRS Fall Meeting Symposium X Speaker

Hideomi Koinuma - Tokyo University, Japan/Pusan National University, Korea

12:15 - 1:30 pm
Sheraton Hotel, Level 2, Grand Ballroom 

Hideomi Koinuma
Tokyo University, Japan/Pusan National University, Korea

Talk Presentation: Sahara Solar Breeder Plans: Look Forward to Sustainable Future Energy from Deserts 


Hideomi Koinuma Biography 

Hideomi Koinuma started his research career as a polymer chemist at Tokyo University, where he invented biodegradable polycarbonate by copolymerization of CO2 and epoxide while pursuing his PhD in 1970. After two years as a postdoc at Kansas University, he returned to Tokyo to continue his polymer research. He also studied solid state electronic thin films of amorphous silicon, as well as transparent conductive oxides, which was extended to high-Tc superconducting thin films. His primary concern is atomic-scale chemical control of surface, interface, and epitaxy of materials. He has founded three international conferences: Workshops of Oxide Electronics (1995) Combinatorial Material Science and Technology (2000) and the first Asia-Arab Sustainable Energy Forum (Aug. 2011). He has served as the director of the Materials Research Laboratory at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, as vice-president of the National Institute for Materials Science, as a funding agency strategy designer, and as chairman of a high-tech venture of advanced materials.


The sun, a natural fusion reactor, is located far enough away to safely bring 10,000 times as much energy as we need to the earth. In principle, all the global energy demand could be afforded in the form of electricity by covering 4% of the world’s desert surface with photovoltaic (PV) panels. Although various semiconductors are available for PV, we can deduce that 100 GW annual solar cell production is the minimum requirement for covering > 30% global energy needs and that only Si can clear this hurdle. The serious disadvantage in PV, output power fluctuation depending on the time, climate, and location, could be overcome by global PV networking with a superconducting grid. In addition to the well-recognized two values of vast land and sunshine, the desert has the third value, sand, for its main component, SiO2. The Science Council of Japan (SCJ) proposed the Sahara solar breeder (SSB) plan at the G8+5 Academies’ meeting in Rome in 2009, and appealed for international cooperation to solve the global energy and ecological issues. The SSB plan starts from basic material research on innovative solar Si technology (more than and beyond Siemens processes) and high-Tc superconducting dc transmission. SSB may be presumed to be a quixotic challenge, but it is the universal dream come true if we can say “yes” for the following questions:

  1. Can PV be superior to conventional energy sources judging from its quality, quantity, cost, and sustainability?
  2. Is SSB feasible scientifically, technologically, and economically? 

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