Dr. Samuel Lara-Avila has been awarded the Arne Sjögren prize for most innovative PhD thesis in the area of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at Chalmers in 2012, for his thesis “Magnetotransport characterization of epitaxial graphene on SiC”.
The motivation is as follows:
Dr Samuel Lara-Avila has in his thesis work shown how unexpected difficulties can be turned into research challenges, by which new research areas can be developed outside the original scope of a thesis. Samuel soon realized that the “simple” function of graphene electrodes for single-molecular devices had more dimensions to it than originally foreseen.
While investigating why the first “graphene” electrodes on the surface of SiC were non-conducting, he came to realize after ingenious selections how to get the “right” single-layer graphene material and further more showed that epitaxial graphene on SiC could have exceptionally high quality and be used in metrology for a resistance standard based on the quantum Hall effect.
To cite the opponent’s statement regarding the quality of the thesis work, Alberto Morpurgo: “The thesis focused on graphene on SiC, a specific way to produce graphene that initially encountered skepticism in the community, because of ambiguous results and imperfect characterization. The work of Samuel Lara-Avila went well beyond the state-of-the-art. Not only the transport measurements that he performed have very convincingly shown that graphene on SiC is in all regards graphene, but also they have shown the possibility to use this material as a superior choice to realize absolute measurements of fundamental constants (h/e2 in this case) with a precision better than the best achieved until now.”