University of California, Riverside

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Alexander Balandin receives MRS Medal for 2013

Alexander Balandin receives MRS Medal for 2013

Alexander Balandin receives MRS Medal for 2013

October 14, 2013

Materials Research Society (MRS) has announced that Professor Alexander A. Balandin will receive the 2013 MRS Medal for his graphene-related research.  The MRS Medal is awarded annually by the Materials Research Society for a specific outstanding recent discovery or advancement that has a major impact on the progress of a materials-related field. The MRS Medal recognizes “an exceptional achievement in materials research in the past ten years.” The impact of this research on the progress of the relevant materials field is a primary consideration in making the award. Each medal consists of a $5,000 cash prize, an engraved and mounted medal and a citation certificate. The MRS Medal is one of the highest recognitions a researcher can receive in materials science and engineering related fields.

Professor Balandin is being honored for his discovery of unusual thermal properties of graphene and two-dimensional crystals, development of an original optothermal measurement technique for the investigation of thermal properties of graphene, and theoretical explanation of the unique features of the phonon transport in graphene. Balandin pioneered the graphene thermal and phonon engineering fields, which resulted in major advances in understanding the thermal properties of low-dimensional materials, physics of phonons, and led to development of practical applications of graphene in heat removal and thermal management. Professor Balandin’s contributions range from the first-principle theory to experiments and to demonstration of prototype devices.

Phonons are quanta of crystal lattice vibrations that carry the heat, affect the optical response of materials and scatter electrons, thus limiting electrical conduction. Phonons reveal themselves in all electrical, thermal and optical phenomena in materials. In the late 1990s, Professor Balandin recognized that nanostructures open opportunities for tuning the properties of phonons in a way similar to electrons. An approach for controlling the phonon spectrum of materials for specific applications was termed phonon engineering or nanophononics. The advent of graphene and quasi two-dimensional materials, also referred to as van der Waals materials, resulted in a discovery of a wealth of new phonon physics and created opportunities for better control of phonon interactions.

Graphene is a single atomic plane of carbon atoms that revealed a wealth of unique physical properties. Professor Andre Geim and Professor Konstantin Novoselov received a Nobel Prize in Physics for 2010 for the discovery of graphene. In 2008, in order to investigate the thermal properties of graphene, Professor Balandin invented a new experimental technique based on Raman spectroscopy. In his design, the spectrometer performed an unusual function of a heat source and thermometer. His first paper on the subject was cited more than 2,350 times. Since then the optothermal technique was adopted in many laboratories world-wide.   

The exceptionally high thermal conductivity of graphene can be used in thermal interface materials, heat spreaders for high-power density devices and thermal phase change materials, which are used for heat removal from computers, laptops and batteries. Professor Balandin and his group members are currently working on developing practical technologies for graphene applications in thermal management of electronic and optoelectronic devices.

Among the past recipients of MRS Medals are such internationally renowned researchers as Dr. Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics at Harvard University, Dr. Shuji Nakamura, CREE Professor of Materials at the University of California - Santa Barbara, Dr. Charles M. Lieber, Mark Hyman Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University, and Dr. Jerry D. Tersoff, Research Staff Member at the IBM T. J. Watson Research. Professor Balandin will give a plenary talk entitled Phonons in Graphene and van der Waals Materials at the Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, December 4 at 6:30 p.m., which will be help during the MRS Fall Meeting in Sheraton Boston Hotel and Towers.

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