Wednesday, June 29, 2011

#MATERIALS: "Smartphone Materials Inspire Kyoto Prize Laureate"

The Kyoto Prize is the technology version of the Nobel Prize, awarded each year to three recipients in technology, basic science and philosophy/art. This year's recipient in advanced technology, National Institute of Technology scientist John Cahn, is estimated by NIST to be responsible for the development of more than 50 percent of the advanced materials in a modern smartphone.

Further Reading

National Institute of Technology materials scientist John Cahn was recently awarded the 27th annual Kyoto Prize for lifetime achievement in advanced technology.

Cahn's contributions to advanced materials science are routinely used in technological developments in renewable energy, computing, robotics, medicine, transportation and other technical fields. The Cahn-Hilliard equation, developed by Cahn with General Electric scientist John Hillard, continues to play a key role today in everything from advanced windshield materials that repel frost to the modern explanation of why uniform expanses of cosmic dust clump together into galaxies.
Later, Cahn incorporated an elastic strain energy term to extend the model into the third dimension, as well as laid the foundation for the modern theories of phase fields. As a result of his insights into thermal conductivity, pore permeability, heat resistance and magnetism, super-alloy properties have resulted in materials breakthroughs in metallurgy, physics, mathematics, chemistry, engineering, economics and demography.

NIST materials scientist John Cahn
Cahn began his career at GE before moving to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later to NIST. While at GE, he established himself as a pioneering thinker in the kinetics of nucleation, showing how thermodynamics governed phase transformations in solids.

At MIT, he extended the theories that explained the insights he observed while at GE, eventually creating the modern theory of phase transitions in metal alloys that led to the widely used Allen-Cahn equation, which he formulated with his graduate student Sam Allen. At NIST, Cahn further developed his theories of advanced alloy materials, establishing the modern theory of spinodal decomposition. Cahn is currently an Emeritus Senior Fellow at NIST and an affiliate professor at the University of Washington (Seattle).

Also receiving the Kyoto Prize this year was astrophysicist Rashid Sunyaev, a citizen of both Russia and Germany, who will receive the award for discovering that fluctuations in cosmic microwave background radiation can be used to look back in time at the origins of our expanding universe.

The Inamori Foundation--created by the founder of technology conglomerate Kyocera Corp. (Kyoto, Japan)--awards each Kyoto Prize laureate $625,000 in cash along with a solid-gold medallion studded with eight perfect precious stones that were grown from scratch in Kyocera's semiconductor ovens--four emeralds of 4 to 12 carats each and rubies of nearly 7 carats each.