The MRS Outstanding Young Investigator Awards recognize outstanding, interdisciplinary scientific work in materials research by young scientists or engineers. The award recipients must also show exceptional promise as developing leaders in the materials area.

William Chueh, Stanford University

Understanding the Many Length Scales of Ion Insertion Solids

“for groundbreaking research on ionic and electronic charge transport and interface chemistry relevant to electrochemical devices

Understanding the Many Length Scales of Ion Insertion Solids

The availability of low-cost but intermittent renewable electricity (e.g., derived from solar and wind) underscores the grand challenge to store and dispatch energy so that it is available when and where it is needed. Redox-active materials promise the efficient transformation between electrical and chemical energy and are at the heart of carbon-neutral energy cycles.

Understanding design rules that govern materials chemistry and architecture holds the key toward rationally optimizing technologies such as lithium-ion batteries and solid oxide fuel cells. Electrochemical reactions involved in these technologies span diverse length and time scales, ranging from Ångströms to meters and from picoseconds to years.

As such, establishing a unified, predictive framework has been a challenge. The central question that motivates our research is, “Can we understand and engineer redox reactions at the levels of electrons, ions, molecules, particles and devices using a bottom-up approach?” In this talk, I will discuss how we integrate synthesis, fabrication, characterization, modeling and analytics to understand molecular pathways and interfacial structure, and to bridge fundamentals to energy storage and conversion technologies by establishing new design rules.

About William Chueh

William Chueh is an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering and a Center Fellow of the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University. He’s also a faculty scientist at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. He leads a group of more than 20 tackling the challenge of decarbonizing various energy transformation pathways. He received his BS degree in applied physics, MS degree and PhD degree (2010) in materials science from the California Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Stanford in 2012, he was a Distinguished Truman Fellow at Sandia National Laboratories. Chueh has received numerous honors, including the Volkswagen/BASF Science Award for Electrochemistry (2016), the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2016), Sloan Research Fellowship (2016), National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award (2015), Solid State Ionics Young Scientist Award (2013), Caltech Demetriades‐Tsafka‐Kokkalis Prize in Energy (2012), and The American Ceramic Society Diamond Award (2008). In 2012, he was named one of the “Top 35 Innovators Under the Age of 35” by MIT Technology Review.

Vanessa Wood, ETH Zürich

Big Science for Small Things—Relating Structure and Function at the Nano- and Micro-scales using X-rays, Electrons, and Neutrons

“for innovative work in visualizing, quantifying and explaining transport processes in material and devices” 


Big Science for Small Things—Relating Structure and Function at the Nano- and Micro-scales using X-rays, Electrons, and Neutrons

Materials in today’s photonic, electronic and electrochemical devices often have complex, multiscale structures and interfaces that are not fully characterized or understood. In this talk, I will describe how my group uses structural studies coupled with simulation and device characterization to identify the fundamental origins of bottlenecks in device performance and to enable systematic engineering of better materials and devices.

About Vanessa Wood

Vanessa Wood holds a bachelor's degree in science from Yale University in applied physics (2005), a master's degree in electrical engineering and computer science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (2007) and a PhD degree in electrical engineering, MIT (2009). Her doctoral work, with Prof. Vladimir Bulović, focused on the development of quantum dot LED technology. From 2010 to 2011, she was a postdoc in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at  MIT, working with Professors Yet Ming Chiang and Craig Carter on lithium-ion battery flow cell technology. 

In 2011, Wood was appointed as an assistant professor in the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at ETH Zürich. She received tenure in 2014 and holds the Chair in Materials and Device Engineering. She won the 2014 Science Prize in Electrochemistry endowed by BASF and Volkswagen Group and is a 2017 World Economic Forum Young Scientist. She is scientific advisor to Battrion AG, a startup founded out of her group in 2015. Wood is currently serving as Head of the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.