Alexander Balandin, a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Riverside, has received the Brillouin Medal from the International Phononics Society. The award was presented at the Phononics 2019: 5th International Conference on Phononic Metamaterials, Phonon Transport, and Topological Phononics in Tucson, Arizona, on June 6.
Phonons are quanta of crystal lattice vibrations in solid materials, which carry heat and scatter electrons. Phonons reveal themselves in all electrical, thermal, and optical phenomena in materials. Heat removal became one of the main roadblocks for continuous downscaling of conventional electronic technologies.
Most recent technological developments indicate that engineering of phonons will become the next big revolution to increase the integration density in computer chips, efficiency of energy conversion, and enable new materials’ functionalities.
The Brillouin Medal award recognizes Balandin’s discovery of unusual heat conduction properties of graphene. Graphene is an individual atomic plane of carbon atoms. Heat in graphene is transported away by acoustic phonons.
The phonon thermal conductivity of graphene reveals unique features, different from conventional bulk crystals, owing to the two-dimensional nature of graphene’s crystal lattice.
Balandin’s work paved the way for practical applications of graphene and few-layer graphene in thermal management technologies, including thermal interface materials, thermal composites, and thermal coatings. He is recognized as a pioneer of the graphene thermal research field.
His current research interests include charge-density-wave effects in two-dimensional materials and their device applications, low-frequency current fluctuations and electronic noise in materials and devices, Brillouin–Mandelstam and Raman spectroscopy of acoustic and optical phonons in various materials, practical applications of graphene in thermal management and energy conversion. He is the director of UC Riverside’s Nanofabrication Facility, associate director of the DOE EFRC Spins and Heat in Nanoscale Electronic Systems Center, and a founding chair of the Materials Science and Engineering Program.