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Jiaxing Huang, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Potential interview topics: Huang is available to speak about innovations in materials chemistry, using materials such as graphene-based soft materials and clay, and their potential impact for producing new energy efficiencies.

Jiaxing Huang is a materials scientist at Northwestern researching the application of different materials in energy and sustainability. As a member of the International Institute of Nanotechnology’s Steering Committee, his research focuses on graphene-based soft materials, organic and metal nanostructures. His discoveries have created significant opportunities to improve motor oil efficiency, solar cell performance and more.

Considered one of the most cited materials scientists based on Elsevier’s Scopus data, he was recognized by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation last year and received an award for his research efforts, underscoring the pervasiveness and importance of his work.

To increase the stability and shelf life of motor oil, Huang created a highly efficient technique called “crumpling” in which graphene nanoparticles are compressed. The super-stable material produced from this process resolves the previous issue of carbon clumping together in the oil. His technique reduced the amount of friction caused by the molecules and could also hold chemical additive molecules often included in commercial motor oils, helping to prolong the motor oil’s shelf life. Otherwise, improperly lubricated car engines tend to waste more money and fuel. He hopes that his work in the field will help make fuel consumption more efficient and reduce pollution by allowing cars to burn less fuel and release less carbon dioxide.

In addition, Huang and the Northwestern University team have made significant strides to improve the efficiency of solar cells by using Blu-ray discs to even out the exposure of sunlight across the cell surface. Due to their printed pattern, the texture would improve light absorption for solar cells by more than 21% than a random pattern would. For the past few years, scientists have been doing research to find the most cost-effective texture surface to use, but it wasn’t until Huang’s wife suggested that data compression might help answer the question that Huang thought to use Blu-ray discs. Collaborating with Northwestern University colleague Dongning Guo, an expert in information theory, Huang and the team looked at data processing algorithms to determine exactly why movies printed on Blu-ray discs created an ideal surface for solar cells.

Huang’s work is dedicated to finding new efficiencies to reduce fuel consumption and re-purpose existing materials in surprising ways, resulting in decreased environmental impact. 

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