A Quest in Materials Science
Liwei Huang says environmental concerns drive his research in materials science.
“We really have to consider that our planet is suffering because of old technologies,” says Huang, citing lead pollution and other issues.
Huang, who expects to receive his PhD in 2012, did his undergraduate work in physics at Peking University in China. He came to Binghamton to work with Associate Professor Howard Wang on flexible electronics and nanomaterials.
Applications for their work range from sensors and transistors to flexible displays and printed electronics. Huang is also fascinated by solar energy and how to harvest it, and by the potential for organic-based light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.
“There are so many interesting materials with such good properties that could do such great things for everyday life,” says Huang, who envisions LED wallpaper and other energy saving devices.
One of Huang’s early research triumphs at Binghamton was demonstrating the remarkable elongation of a silver nanoparticle film, stretching a 3-inch sample to 9 inches without the metal breaking. No one else in the world has done that yet, he said.
That research was made possible in part by the world-class equipment — especially a scanning electron microscope — available in the Analytical and Diagnostics Laboratory at the Innovative Technologies Complex. Huang’s goal is to stretch the film by 300 percent.
Huang isn’t sure whether he’ll pursue an academic career or go into industrial research and development, but he has no doubt that what he’s learning will allow him to make an impact. “The earlier we can find good materials,” he says, “the more good we can do for humans.”