MRS Award Recipients Lightning Talks and Panel Discussion

Tuesday, December 7
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm EST

A single celebratory session for award talks will take place on Tuesday, December 7, 2021. During this virtual event, MRS Award recipients will present well-formed ideas on their respective research. Award recipients will also serve as panelists following the aired presentations to answer questions from the audience. 

Hosted by the MRS Awards Committee. Moderated by Suveen Mathaudhu, Chair, Awards Committee.

MRS Medal

Yury GogotsiYury Gogotsi, Drexel University
For contributions to advancing the understanding of processing, structure, and properties of two-dimensional carbides and nitrides (MXenes) for energy storage applications

Two-dimensional carbides and nitrides (MXenes) for energy storage applications
2D carbides and nitrides, known as MXenes, are among the most recent, but quickly expanding material families. The field is experiencing very fast growth, and major breakthroughs have been achieved in the past 3-4 years. Valuable ad unique properties of MXenes, such as metallic conductivity combined with hydrophilicity and redox activity, led to numerous applications, including energy storage and conversion. This presentation will first discuss new approaches to synthesis and surface chemistry control that result in materials with greatly improved chemical and electrochemical stability. Electrochemical properties and energy storage applications of these MXenes will be discussed.

MRS acknowledges the generosity of Dr. Gwo-Ching Wang and Dr. Toh-Ming Lu  in endowing the MRS Medal.


Materials Theory Award

Emily A. CarterEmily Carter, University of California, Los Angeles
For advances in quantum mechanics theory with broad applications to materials and chemical sciences 

Quantum-Derived Materials Solutions for a Sustainable Future 
An overview will be given of how quantum mechanics methods developed in the Carter group have been applied to a diverse array of sustainable energy challenges. The two most prominent methods, orbital-free density functional theory (OF-DFT) to embedded correlated wavefunction (ECW) theory, overcome different limitations of Kohn-Sham DFT: computational cost and accuracy, respectively. OF-DFT molecular dynamics, for example, has been applied to study properties of liquid metals under consideration for fusion reactor first wall materials. ECW theory has been applied to extract mechanistic insight into (photo)(electro) catalysis to produce fuels and chemicals from renewable energy. These methods, together with standard DFT-based methods, have enabled the design and discovery of new materials for sustainable fuel, chemical, and electricity production, including inexpensive solar cells, solar thermochemical production of syn gas, electrochemical water splitting, (photo)(electro) chemical carbon dioxide reduction, and more. 

MRS acknowledges the generosity of Dr. Gwo-Ching Wang and Dr. Toh-Ming Lu  in endowing the Materials Theory Award.


MRS Nelson "Buck" Robinson Science and Technology Award for Renewable Energy

Stafford Sheehan, Air Company

Progress Toward CO2 Conversion to Renewable Fuel at Air Company
Over the past two years, Air Company has commercialized several luxury products (spirits, sanitizer, and fragrance) that use ethanol made by chemically reducing CO2 using H2O, and renewable electricity. These products were made while developing and scaling new catalytic CO2 utilization technology, with the goal of replacing chemical feedstock in commodity markets with low-carbon alternatives. In this talk, Air Company’s progress will be discussed, including recent milestones from the 1-ton per day CO2 utilization system that was commissioned at the beginning of 2021. The talk will conclude with a discussion of viable technologies to contribute toward reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 10% within the next decade.

MRS acknowledges the generosity of Sophie Robinson for endowing this award in memory of her father, Nelson "Buck" Robinson.


MRS Postdoctoral Award

Zhijie ChenZhijie Chen, Northwestern University
For his outstanding contributions to the fields of porous materials, nanochemistry, and supramolecular assembly

Precise Synthesis of Porous Crystalline Materials for Clean Energy and Nerve Agents Destruction
Reticular chemistry has developed into a powerful tool for the design and synthesis of porous, crystalline framework materials such as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). In this presentation, I will introduce how fundamental reticular chemistry can be applied to the precise synthesis of targeted stable porous MOFs for the onboard storage of clean-energy gases such as hydrogen and methane. A newly developed ultraporous MOF shows impressive balanced gravimetric and volumetric storage performances for these gases. Additionally, I will report a generalizable and scalable approach for integrating MOFs and non-volatile polymeric bases onto textile fibers for the practical destruction of nerve agents.

MRS acknowledges the Jiang Family Foundation and MTI Corporation for their generous contribution to support this award.


MRS Postdoctoral Award

Dasha NelidovaDasha Nelidova, Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel
For creating tunable nanogenetic near-infrared light sensors to restore vision

Engineering Near-Infrared Vision
Enabling near-infrared light sensitivity in a blind human retina may supplement or restore visual function in patients with regional retinal degeneration. We induced near-infrared light sensitivity using gold nanorods bound to temperature-sensitive engineered transient receptor potential (TRP) channels. We expressed mammalian or snake TRP channels in light-insensitive retinal cones in a mouse model of retinal degeneration and in the human ex vivo retina. Near-infrared stimulation increased activity in cones, ganglion cell layer neurons, and cortical neurons, and enabled mice to perform a learned light-driven behavior. We tuned responses to different wavelengths, by using nanorods of different lengths, and to different radiant powers, by using engineered channels with different temperature thresholds.

MRS acknowledges the Jiang Family Foundation and MTI Corporation for their generous contribution to support this award.


The Kavli Foundation Early Career Lectureship in Materials Science

Susan A Bernal LopezSusan Bernal Lopez, University of Leeds

Cementing a Low-Carbon Future Infrastructure
Cement and concrete are around us in our daily life, from houses to roads, and have become the unseen heroes of our societal development. The large amounts needed to fulfill modern infrastructure needs, make them contribute up to 10% CO2 global emissions. This lecture will give an overview of recent advances in the materials science of novel low carbon cements, with a fraction of the CO2, highlighting the challenges and opportunities for their development and industrial widespread uptake.

The Kavli Foundation is dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity, promoting public understanding of scientific research and supporting scientists and their work.

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