28 June 2011

University of Illinois professor John A. Rogers awarded $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize

John A. Rogers, the Lee J. Flory-Founder Chair in Engineering Innovation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has won the 2011 Lemelson-MIT Prize.  Rogers holds joint appointments in UIUC’s Departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry, Mechanical Science and Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering), and he is also director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center.

Rogers will accept the $500,000 prize – one of the world’s largest single cash prizes for invention – and present his accomplishments to the public at a ceremony during the Lemelson-MIT Program’s 5th annual EurekaFest at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA (15–18 June).

Now in its 17th year, the annual Lemelson-MIT Prize recognizes outstanding innovation and creativity, and is awarded to outstanding mid-career inventors, who have developed a patented product or process of significant value to society, which has been adopted for practical use, or has a high probability of being adopted. By recognizing and funding younger, mid-career inventors, the prize is designed to spur inventive careers and provide role models for future generations of inventors.

Known for his recent pioneering work with semiconductor materials and flexible, stretchable electronics, Rogers applies his expertise to devise technology solutions across fields such as solar power, biointegrated electronics, sensing, thin-film metrology and fiber optics.

Rogers combines soft, stretchable materials with micro-and nanoscale electronic components to create classes of devices with a wide range of practical applications. His recent work has produced devices from tiny eye-like cameras to less-invasive surgical tools to biocompatible sensor arrays.

Ilesanmi Adesida, the dean of the College of Engineering at Illinois, cited Rogers’ ability to span incongruent fields of work as a reason for his success, moving from science to technology and to practical applications with a vision for the translation of science to products. “His work exemplifies how to effectively bolster sciences and technology so the US can successfully compete and prosper in the global community of the 21st century,” says Adesida. 

Rogers is also co-founder and director of the device companies Semprius Inc — which focuses on massively parallel, microcell-based concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) receivers — and MC10 Inc, both of which work to apply and commercialize technology he has invented. Previously, he co-founded the firm Active Impulse Systems Inc, which commercialized his picosecond laser techniques for the analysis of thin films used in the semiconductor industry and was later acquired by a large company.

Rogers earned his doctorate in physical chemistry from MIT in 1995, and joined the Illinois faculty in January 2003. Affiliated with the University of Illinois’ Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory (FSMRL), he has written more than 300 published papers and holds more than 80 patents (50 of which are licensed or in active use). He has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), awarded a MacArthur fellowship, and named a fellow of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the American Physical Society (APS), the Materials Research Society (MRS), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The Lemelson-MIT Program at MIT was founded in 1994 by Jerome H. Lemelson (one of America’s most prolific inventors) and his wife Dorothy, who is now chair of The Lemelson Foundation (a private philanthropy that sparks, sustains and celebrates innovation and the inventive spirit). The program is administered by MIT's School of Engineering, and supports projects in the US and developing countries that nurture innovators and unleash invention to advance economic, social and environmentally sustainable development.

Applications for the 2012 $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize are now available at: http://web.mit.edu/invent/a-prize.html.

Tags: CPV

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