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Posted: February 8, 2008
University of Texas nanotechnologist wins national honor
(Nanowerk News) A nanotechnologist and University of Texas at Dallas chemistry professor has received a huge honor for working with minuscule technology.
Ray Baughman, the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Chemistry and director of the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute at UTD, will join another Texan and 63 other new members elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the organization will announce today.
Rebecca Richards-Kortum, chair of the bioengineering department and a professor at Rice University in Houston, is the other Texan honored.
"The election of Dr. Ray Baughman to the NAE isn't surprising," UTD President David E. Daniel said in a written statement. "He is one of the foremost figures in his field. The fundamental science and engineering being done in Dr. Baughman's labs will develop highly useful technologies."
Dr. Baughman, 65, said he was surprised by the news Thursday.
"I've always loved science," he said. "I like to make scientific breakthroughs and see them applied to create new companies, to provide new products and to provide a benefit to humanity."
Nanotechnology uses tiny organic molecules to build new materials.
One of Dr. Baughman's most notable achievements was his 2004 discovery that carbon nanotubes, or cylindrical sheets of carbon atoms, can be spun into yarns. Nanotubes are many times thinner than a human hair and are 56 times stronger than steel wire.
That means the nanotubes could be used to make lightweight bulletproof vests, serve as scaffolding to fix or reproduce damaged body tissue, or provide lighter, stronger material for aircrafts, the university said.
Dr. Baughman has also co-invented an indicator used worldwide that can show when vaccines and military ready-to-eat meals go bad.
Now, Dr. Baughman is working on improving one of his 2006 inventions – artificial muscles that are powered by alcohol instead of electricity and that could be 100 times stronger than natural muscles.
Dr. Baughman said he is thrilled to be able to share advances in research with students.
"One of my goals is education," he said. "This work is also being done by students, and I like to excite young people about research."