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UC Berkeley professor among Popular Science magazine's 'Brilliant 10'

| 15 October 2009

An engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, has been pegged as an up-and-coming scientist to watch by the magazine Popular Science. The publication announced today (Thursday, Oct. 15) that Ting Xu, 35, assistant professor of materials science and engineering and of chemistry, is one of the "Brilliant 10" young researchers profiled in its November issue.

Ting XuTing Xu (Michael Barnes/College of Chemistry photo)
The national magazine cited the technique Xu co-developed to guide the self-assembly of nano-sized elements in precise patterns. Like soldiers lining up in formation, the block copolymers assembled at densities of 10 trillion bits per square inch.

The technique promises to revolutionize the data storage industry, eventually leading to the contents of hundreds of DVDs fitting into a space the size of a quarter.

Xu is now working on applying this self-assembly technique to paper-thin, printable solar cells and ultra-small electronic devices. "We've advanced the technique to make the nanocomposites responsive to light, which could enable the development of photovoltaic cells that are more energy efficient," said Xu. "It's a tremendous and unexpected honor to have this work recognized in this way."

"From solar cells to cancer cells, tracking viruses and preventing disasters, the Brilliant 10 are dreaming up solutions for some of the planetís most vexing challenges," according to a statement released today by Popular Science announcing the list of top young innovators.

Among the other scientists on the list are Nathaniel Dominy, 33, an anthropologist from UC Santa Cruz who studies the role of food in human evolution; Marla Geha, 35, an astronomer from Yale University who hunts for faint galaxies formed when the universe was young; and Kate Rubins, 31, a fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who helped develop techniques to quickly isolate and sequence the genes of poxviruses.

This is the eighth annual Brilliant 10 list selected from among hundreds of nominations of researchers under 40 by Popular Science, one of the largest science and technology magazines in the world.