MRS Medal Talks

Thursday, November 30
5:45 pm – 7:00 pm
Sheraton, 2nd Floor, Grand Ballroom

The MRS Medal, endowed by Toh-Ming Lu and Gwo-Ching Wang, is awarded for a specific outstanding recent discovery or advancement that has a major impact on the progress of a materials-related field.

Joanna Aizenberg

Joanna Aizenberg, Harvard University
EVERYTHING SLIPS—Design of Novel Non-fouling Materials

"for developing new synthesis routes inspired by biological principles for the fabrication of advanced complex multifunctional materials and devices"

Liquids entrapped within and on a solid begin to exhibit unique behaviors often providing the surrounding material with unprecedented properties. Recently we introduced a new technology to create self-healing, antifouling coatings (so-called Slippery, Lubricant-Infused Porous Surfaces, or SLIPS), which has given rise to a fast-developing area of materials research. These bioinspired coatings that mimic slippery surfaces of a pitcher plant outperform state-of-the-art materials in their ability to resist ice and microbial adhesion, repel various simple and complex liquids, prevent marine fouling, or reduce drag. Generalized design principles for creating stable, shear-tolerant SLIPS on glass, ceramics, polymers, fabrics and metals, as well as their performance in condensers, heat exchangers, membranes and medical devices will be discussed.  We anticipate that slippery surfaces can find important applications as antifouling materials in medicine, construction, naval and aircraft industries, fluid handling and transportation, optical sensing, and as antifouling surfaces against highly contaminating media operating in extreme environments.

About Joanna Aizenberg

Joanna Aizenberg pursues multidisciplinary research that includes biomimetics, crystal engineering and smart materials. She received a BS degree in chemistry from Moscow State University, and a PhD degree in structural biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science. After spending nearly a decade at Bell Laboratories, Aizenberg joined Harvard University, where she is the Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Director of the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology and Platform Leader in the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

Aizenberg is elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, American Philosophical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and she is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, MRS and an external member of the Max Planck Society. She received numerous awards from the American Chemical Society (ACS) and MRS, including Fred Kavli Distinguished Lectureships, Ronald Breslow Award in Biomimetic Chemistry, Arthur K. Doolittle Award in Polymeric Materials, and the ACS Industrial Innovation Award. In 2015, she received the Ledlie Prize awarded for the most valuable contribution to science made by a Harvard scientist. Aizenberg has served on the Board of Directors of MRS and on the Board of Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies.

Younan Xia

Younan Xia, Georgia Institute of Technology
Towards Affordable and Sustainable Use of Noble-Metal Nanocrystals in Catalysis and Nanomedicine

"for seminal contributions to shape-controlled synthesis of metal nanocrystals with major impact on catalysis, plasmonics and biomedicine"

Noble metals represent some of the least abundant elements in the Earth’s crust. There is an urgent need to maximize the utilization efficiency of noble metals and thus attain affordable and sustainable products. One approach is based on the development of hollow nanocrystals with well-defined and controllable facets while their walls are kept below five atomic layers (or 1 nm) in thickness. In this talk, Xia will start with a brief introduction to two methods that have been developed for the production of such nanomaterials, with the first involving layer-by-layer atomic deposition followed by etching and the second involving galvanic replacement with a sacrificial template. He will then showcase some remarkable properties and applications of this novel class of nanomaterials, including their use as cost-effective catalysts for energy conversion, as carriers for controlled release and drug delivery and as theranostic agents for cancer medicine. Finally, he will discuss some barriers to the commercialization of these nanomaterials.

About Younan Xia

Younan Xia holds the Brock Family Chair and GRA Eminent Scholar in Nanomedicine at Georgia Institute of Technology. He received his BS degree from the University of Science and Technology of China in 1987, MS degree from the University of Pennsylvania (with Alan G. MacDiarmid) in 1993, and PhD degree from Harvard University (with George M. Whitesides) in 1996. His group invented a myriad of nanomaterials for applications in catalysis, plasmonics, electronics, display, energy and medicine. His technology on silver nanowires has been commercialized for the fabrication of flexible, transparent and conductive films central to touchscreen display and flexible electronics. Xia has co-authored >700 publications in peer-reviewed journals, together with a total citation of >110,000 and an h-index of >170. He has been named a Top 10 Chemist and Materials Scientist in the world. He has received many prestigious awards, including the ACS National Award in the Chemistry of Materials, NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, and NSF CAREER Award. More information can be found at