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Nanotechnology Pioneer to Speak at Annual Polykarp Kusch Lecture

Dr. Ray Baughman, a pioneer in nanotechnology and a prolific inventor, will be the featured speaker at the annual Polykarp Kusch Lecture at UT Dallas on Thursday.

Dr. Ray Baughman (left) established the George A. Jeffrey NanoExplorers Program, which brings high school students into UT Dallas labs and introduces them to nanotechnology. Doctoral student Carter Haines (right) started his research career through NanoExplorers.

Baughman is the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Chemistry and director of the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute at UT Dallas, where his research involves engineering materials and systems at the molecular scale. He is especially known for his work with carbon nanotubes, which are tiny cylindrical structures made from sheets of carbon atoms. Carbon nanotubes are very strong and have unique electrical and mechanical properties that make them useful for many applications.

Among its many accomplishments, Baughman’s research group has used carbon nanotubes to make artificial muscles that are 100 times stronger than natural muscles, and has demonstrated that carbon nanotube sheets can be used to make objects appear to vanish. In addition, he and his team recently discovered a way to convert ordinary fishing line and sewing thread into powerful artificial muscles.

Baughman’s talk, “Nanotechnology for Fun and Profit: From Artificial Muscles and Sonar Projectors to Textiles that Harvest and Store Energy,” will be at 1:30 p.m. in the Clark Center Auditorium (CN1.112).

“In this presentation, I will talk about the great fun we are having at UT Dallas in making team-based discoveries, and how these discoveries might benefit our society,” Baughman said. “Some of the advances I will describe include artificial muscles with superhuman capabilities, clothing that harvests and stores energy, and sound projectors that make things seem to disappear.”

Baughman joined the UT Dallas faculty in 2001 after a 31-year career in industry. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas. In addition, he is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Institute of Chemists; an Academician of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences; and an honorary professor at four universities in China.

With collaborators all over the world, including Australia, South Korea, China and Canada, Baughman holds 70 U.S. patents and is an author of more than 300 peer-reviewed publications. Among his numerous professional honors, Thomson Reuters ranked him 30th among the Top 100 Materials Scientists of the Decade (2000-10). His team’s research breakthroughs have earned a spot in the Scientific American 50, recognizing outstanding technological leadership, and in Time’s “50 Best Inventions of the Year.”

In 2002, Baughman established the George A. Jeffrey NanoExplorers Program, which brings talented high school students into UT Dallas laboratories and introduces them to nanotechnology. The program is named for Jeffrey, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh who gave a high school-age Baughman a chance to conduct research in a lab. In 2011, the NanoExplorers Program earned a Tech Titan of the Future Award from the Metroplex Technology Business Council.

Kusch Lectures are free and open to the public.


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