Korgel Receives Professional Progress Award

Professor Brian Korgel holding a solar cellProfessor Brian Korgel has been awarded the 2012 Professional Progress Award for Outstanding Progress in Chemical Engineering by the American Institute for Chemical Engineers (AIChE).

The award, sponsored by Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., recognizes Korgel’s leading research in nanoparticle and nanowire synthesis and characterization.  The accolade is one of the highest honors presented by the AIChE.

“Korgel’s research has been highly influential, is of the highest quality, and is extremely innovative,” said Joseph DeSimone, Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry and William R, Kenan, Jr. Professor of Chemical Engineering at The University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University. “He crosses disciplines effortlessly and makes insights and tangible contributions that appear obvious once he points them out.”

Korgel has contributed ground-breaking firsts and major contributions in supercritical fluids and nanomaterials.  In his most cited paper, “Control of the Thickness and Orientation of Solution-Grown Silicon Nanowires,” published in Science in 2000, he was the first to outline a new way of growing Si nanowires with controlled size in solution, achieving high temperatures needed for Si crystallization by using a supercritical fluid medium.

“The Science paper in 2000 is one of the most important papers in nanocrystal synthesis, and is the most important paper in the synthesis of Si nanocrystals,” said Taeghwan Hyeon, SNU Distinguished Fellow and Professor in the School of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Seoul National University.  

Korgel has also demonstrated professional progress by successfully developing his work into real-world applications. In 2001 he founded Innovalight to commercialize his work creating nanocrystal inks that improve the efficiency of solar cells. The company was selected for a Technology Pioneer Award at the World Economic Forum in 2006 and a Red Herring R&D 100 Award in 2007 before being sold to DuPont last year. 

He has generated wide-spread interest in his work to create spray-on solar panels that can be painted on surfaces, such as buildings, to generate power from the sun and directs the Center for Next Generation Photovoltaics. The center is the first and only of its kind in the National Science Foundation’s Industry and University Cooperative Research Program. 

In 2007 Korgel started Pinon Technologies to take large-scale nanowire production to market. Nanowires produced will be used for transistors in higher performance displays, smart textiles, advanced composite materials, and more advanced lithium-ion batteries for personal electronics and electric vehicles. 

The Professional Progress Award will be presented at an honors ceremony during the AIChE Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Sunday, October 28.

Korgel earned a B.S. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from UCLA in 1991 and 1997, respectively, and joined the UT Austin Department of Chemical Engineering faculty in 1998.  He’s written more than 180 peer-reviewed papers with more than 8,800 citations and mentored 27 Ph.D. students, seven of whom have gone on to be professors at well-respected universities.


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