University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Colloquium

Wednesday, April 25th 2012
3:35 pm:
Speaker: Professor Mildred Dresselhaus, MIT
Subject: My 50-year Adventure with Carbon
Refreshments served in Room 216 Physics after colloquium

There is much current excitement about the interesting advances in science and the unusual physical properties of carbon nanostructures, particularly carbon nanotubes and graphene, which are both of great interest at the present time. A brief review will be given of the physical underpinnings of carbon nanostructures with special focus on graphene. The review will cover developments over the past 60 years, starting with the work of Wallace in the 1940’s and my work in the 1960’s on graphite, which built on work done at Imperial College. We then move to graphite intercalation compounds which contained the first carbon nanostructures to be studied experimentally. Liquid carbon studies were precursors to the fullerene family of nanostructures and vapor grown carbon fibers were precursors to carbon nanotubes. Particular emphasis is given to the recent developments in our understanding of the optical properties of carbon nanotubes and graphene, with perspectives on future research directions for these fields and applications that are now beginning to emerge.

Biography: Mildred Dresselhaus is an Institute Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics at MIT. She is the recipient of the National Medal of Science and 28 honorary degrees worldwide. She has served as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Treasurer of the National Academy of Sciences, President of the American Physical Society, and Chair of the Governing Board of the American Institute of Physics. She is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Philosophical Society, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She served as the Director of the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy. Professor Dresselhaus' research over the years has covered a wide range of topics in Condensed Matter and Materials Physics. She is best known for her work on carbon science and carbon nanostructures, as well as nanoscience and nanotechnology more generally. She is also one of the researchers responsible for the resurgence of the Thermoelectrics research field through her early work on low dimensional thermoelectricity in the early 1990's.

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