Nanomaterials researcher wins mid-career research award

By Neal Singer

Photography By Randy Montoya

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Former postdoctoral student Kaifu Bian also honored for nanowire work

Hongyou Fan in lab
MATERIALS MAVEN — Sandia National Laboratories materials scientist Hongyou Fan received the Materials Research Society’s Mid-Career Researcher Award.

Sandia National Laboratories materials scientist Hongyou Fan is the sole recipient of this year’s Mid-Career Researcher Award from the Materials Research Society, the largest U.S. materials society. The distinction is given midway in a researcher’s career for exceptional achievements in materials research and for notable leadership in the field.

Hongyou was chosen for “outstanding contributions in nanoparticle self-assembly of functional nanomaterials.”

He is widely recognized for pioneering work that employs stress rather than chemistry — the more conventional approach — to form new materials at the nanoscale. The patented stress-induced assembly method uses mechanical force to change the structure of materials, which has produced nanomaterials with structures and properties not achievable using chemical synthesis methods. The results — often finer, cleaner and more flexible than those produced by chemistry — are easily integrated into industrial manufacturing and leave no harmful byproducts, which can be unfortunate residues of chemical methods.

A distinguished member of Sandia’s technical staff and a national laboratory professor at the University of New Mexico, Hongyou is the first U.S. national lab researcher to win the mid-career award, which has been presented annually for the last seven years. Previous winners have been associated with Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and other universities.

In April, Hongyou will receive a $5,000 cash prize, a trophy and a certificate at the society’s meeting in Phoenix.

Former Sandia postdoctoral researcher Kaifu Bian, whose work at Sandia was guided by Hongyou, has been awarded the society’s Postdoctoral Award “for advancing the understanding of nanoparticle assemblies under stress.” According to the society, Kaifu “further advanced the stress-induced synthesis method … originally invented by Hongyou’s group.” Kaifu’s work led to the fabrication of new semiconductor nanowires with high luminescence that could not be created by traditional synthesis. He is the first Sandia postdoctoral researcher to win the award.

Hongyou is a Materials Research Society and American Physical Society fellow. He has received the MRS Fred Kavli Distinguished Lectureship Award in Nanoscience, four R&D 100 Awards for the development of technically significant products, two Federal Laboratory Consortium Technology Transfer-Outstanding Technology Development Awards, the University of New Mexico Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award and the Asian American Engineer of the Year Award.

Earlier this year, Hongyou received special recognition from the New Mexico State Legislature for outstanding contributions in science and engineering as a serial innovator.

He received his doctorate in chemical engineering at UNM in 2000.