Two materials scientists at the U.S.
Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have received the
2009 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE),
the nation’s highest honor for researchers in the beginning stages of
their independent research careers.
Argonne materials scientist Dillon Fong and nanoscientist Elena Shevchenko
were selected by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for
their contributions to meeting America’s scientific and technological
missions and the country’s economic, energy, health and security needs.
“Science and technology have long been at the core of America’s
economic strength and global leadership,” said President Obama. “I
am confident that these individuals, who have shown such tremendous promise
so early in their careers, will go on to make breakthroughs and discoveries
that will continue to move our nation forward in the years ahead.”
“I am so honored to be both nominated and selected for this award,”
Shevchenko said. “Nanoscience is a burgeoning field of science with so
many discoveries to be made. There are so many possibilities for the future
and I am excited to be a part of it.”
Shevchenko, who heads the NanoBio Interfaces Group in Argonne’s Center
for Nanoscale Materials, achieved wide recognition for her work in the design
and synthesis of nanoparticles, which are small assemblies of particular materials
that have special properties.
Shevchenko’s work specifically examined how nanoparticles self-organize
to form more complicated materials. “Self-assembly is a natural pathway
to create matter at atomic and macromolecular levels,” she said. “By
mixing and matching different types of nanocrystals and controlling the interaction
of neighboring constituents, we can design a wide range of transformative and
inexpensive new materials.”
Fong works in Argonne’s Materials Science Division, where he investigates
the formation and structure of complex oxide thin films. "In my research,
we ask questions like how these thin film crystals grow, and how much of this
growth can we control?" Fong said. "Furthermore, how do these materials
behave when they are only a few nanometers thick?"
Both Fong and Shevchenko use the high-energy X-rays produced by Argonne’s
Advanced Photon Source (APS). Some of Fong’s research at the APS examines
the ferroelectric properties of certain films, which could eventually have applications
in a range of energy technologies. “I am honored to receive this award,
and the recognition should be shared by all the people at Argonne who further
the quest to discover new materials and their properties,” Fong said.
Last year, Shevchenko was also recognized as one of the country’s top
young innovators by Technology Review magazine, which is published by the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology.
Shevchenko, Fong and the other PECASE winners will receive their awards at
a ceremony at the White House later this year.