Two McCormick Alumni Win Thesis Prize

Both recipients, formerly advised by Jiaxing Huang, were honored for their carbon research.

Jaemyung KimTwo former graduate students from the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science received the 2013 Carbon Journal Prize for outstanding PhD thesis in carbon research. The award recipients, Jiayan Luo (’13) and Jaemyung Kim (’13), were both advised by Jiaxing Huang, associate professor in materials science and engineering.

Although the prize is typically awarded to a single candidate, this year’s committee decided that Luo and Kim both deserved the honor.

In Kim’s thesis work, he developed a new imaging technique called florescence quenching microscopy that enables high-contrast, high-throughput imaging to graphene-based sheets on arbitrary substrates and in solution. He also discovered a novel property of graphene oxide, a widely used material for producing graphene. The material has been considered hydrophilic (water-attracting) for the past 150 years. However, Kim demonstrated that they are actually amphiphilic (both water-attracting and water-repelling) and can function as sheet-like surfactant to disperse insoluble materians in water.

Jiayan Luo

Luo’s PhD research focused on the materials processing challenges of chemically modified graphene for scalable applications. He developed two strategies to solve the aggregation problem of graphene-based sheets, namely “graphene nanocolloids” that self-stabilize in water and “crumpled graphene balls” that resist aggregation even after being compressed.

Luo and Kim will each receive a two-year electronic subscription to the journal Carbon as well as a $600 travel stipend to attend the Carbon2014 conference in Jeju, Korea.

Carbon is an international multidisciplinary forum for communicating scientific advances in the field of carbon materials and carbon nanomaterials. The journal was founded in conjunction with the American Carbon Society.