The Michigan Engineer News Center

Kotov wins the Stephanie L. Kwolek Award

The Kwolek Award is to recognize exceptional contributions to the area of materials chemistry.| Short Read
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Nicholas Kotov, the Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Professor of Chemical Engineering, is the 2016 recipient of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Stephanie L. Kwolek Award. The Kwolek Award is to recognize exceptional contributions to the area of materials chemistry from a scientist working outside the United Kingdom. This award, given biennially, is named after Stephanie Louise Kwolek, who invented Kevlar.

Kotov was the first scientist to recognize that layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly replicate biomineralized composites found in nature. He duplicated the brick-and-mortar structure of nacre (Nature Mater., 2003; Science, 2007) and has created a stunning catalogue of nanocomposites with exceptional mechanical properties. In search of new nanoscale components, he also showed that KevlarTMmacrofibers (Kwolek, 1965), can be transformed into nanofibers (ACS Nano, 2011; Nature Comm, 2015)

According to one of his colleagues in the field, Kotov’s research “has shaped the modern field of composite materials. He has demonstrated the possibility of combining extreme material properties that were once widely believed to be mutually restrictive. His composites not only break records for physical properties, but are also practically feasible. The LbL composite resulted in new types of transparent armor, batteries, fuel cells, soft robotics, antibacterial coatings, bone-like scaffolds for 3D tissue engineering, and a new generation of neural implants that minimize brain inflammation.”

As the 2016 Kwolek Award winner, Kotov will tour the United Kingdom giving a series of lectures in the Fall/Winter of 2016-2017 during his sabbatical year.

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The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read