Materials researcher wins Air Force career award

A Florida State University professor has been awarded the Air Force’s Young Investigator Award for his promising research on a class of materials that can be used to make anything from sensors to LED lighting to new communications devices.

Assistant Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Zhibin Yu will receive the award, which provides his lab with $360,000 over a three-year period to continue his research and help support his graduate students.

“I am pleased and humbled to be selected for such a prestigious award,” Yu said.

The grant will help fund a study for new uses of a class of materials called organometal halid perovskites. Perovskites are any materials with the same type of crystal structure as calcium titanium oxide.

“There is a lot of potential in using the perovskites,” Yu said. “They can be used for LEDs, sensors, electronic communications.”

In addition to looking at the uses for the material, Yu will also investigate ways to scale-up production of new items.

Yu has already collaborated with Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering Biwu Ma and Assistant Professor of Physics Hanwei Gao to use perovskites to make LEDs. Yu’s expertise will help examine how to make them on a larger scale.

Yu is based at the university’s High-Performance Materials Institute, which specifically looks for ways to develop and scale up new materials.

“We are very pleased about Dr. Yu’s rapid progress with his research and that he won this prestigious award,” said Richard Liang, director of HPMI. “With this support, Dr. Yu and his group can further accelerate their research and bring more technical breakthroughs in energy-efficient materials and devices.”

Yu is part of a cohort of 11 young materials researchers that FSU hired over the past few years as part of the Energy and Materials Strategic Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to produce high-tech materials for next-generation, energy-sustainable technology. The hires were supported by funding from the Florida Legislature in recognition of the university’s status as one of Florida’s preeminent universities.