2018 ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces Young Investigator Award Winner Announced

ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, in partnership with the ACS Division of Colloid & Surface Chemistry, is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Y. Shirley Meng, University of California San Diego, as the winner of the 2018 ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces Young Investigator Award.

I caught up with Dr. Meng to learn more about her research, and to hear her advice for young researchers.

How did you become interested in materials science and how has your career progressed?

I became interested in materials science when I was a kid who realized that the bodies of the airplanes are made of metals. It fascinated me that a metal object can be so light and strong. I was then exposed to complex oxides for superconductivity as an undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University – it is a magical feeling when the YBCO pellet I made exhibited magnetic levitation when it was cooled by the liquid nitrogen.

I consider materials science to be an interdisciplinary subject, which enables many novel technologies to improve people’s quality of lives. My career has progressed well thanks to the great Ph.D. training I received at Singapore-MIT Alliance and postdoc training at MIT. I now lead a research group of 20 graduate students and postdocs at UC San Diego now and have many collaborators across the world. Together, we are doing some of the most cutting-edge research on how to store and convert more energy into solid-state materials and make highly efficient devices out of them, such as batteries and solar cells.  It is truly a rewarding experience for me to see that what we have discovered in the lab generates fundamental knowledge about the materials for energy applications, how their interfaces with each other can be controlled, and how to make improvements to performance. Low cost, abundant, and sustainable energy is one of the most important challenges to address for the human kind – I am fortunate to work on the materials science aspect of this grand challenge.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

I appreciate ACS for the award recognition. I cannot say exactly what the highlight of my career is because I am an educator and a researcher at the same time – it is a privilege to be in such a position, and that is the highlight of my career.

Could you give us a short overview of the research you are currently undertaking?

My research focuses on the direct integration of advanced characterization techniques with first principles computation modeling for developing new materials and their architectures for next generation electrochemical energy storage systems, enabling technologies from the small, personal internet of the things, to electric cars, to flying drones to future smart and green electric grids.

What advice do you have for young scientists who are just starting out in their career and want to make an impact?

Find out what truly are your interests, what you are passionate about – and go for them. Persevere no matter what.

Explore a selection of articles published by Dr. Y. Shirley Meng:

New Insights into the Interphase between the Na Metal Anode and Sulfide Solid-State Electrolytes: A Joint Experimental and Computational Study
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2018,  (12), pp 10076–10086
DOI: 10.1021/acsami.7b19037

Ionotactile Stimulation: Nonvolatile Ionic Gels for Human–Machine Interfaces
ACS Omega, 2018, 3 (1), pp 662–666
DOI: 10.1021/acsomega.7b01773

New Insights on the Structure of Electrochemically Deposited Lithium Metal and Its Solid Electrolyte Interphases via Cryogenic TEM
Nano Letters
DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b03606

Enhancing the Ion Transport in LiMn1.5Ni0.5O4 by Altering the Particle Wulff Shape via Anisotropic Surface Segregation
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2017, 17 (12), pp 7606–7612
DOI: 10.1021/acsami.7b09903

Synchrotron X-ray Analytical Techniques for Studying Materials Electrochemistry in Rechargeable Batteries
Chemical Reviews, 2017, 117 (21), pp 13123–13186
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.7b00007

Improvement of the Cathode Electrolyte Interphase on P2-Na2/3Ni1/3Mn2/3O2 by Atomic Layer Deposition
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2017, 9 (31), pp 26518–26530
DOI: 10.1021/acsami.7b05326

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