College of Science Distinguished Speaker at RIT Jan. 18

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Stefano Curtarolo

Words like “lithium ion batteries” and “Kevlar” vests have entered the vernacular via the field of materials science. Behind the now familiar words are materials that took decades to develop before hitting the marketplace.

A new infrastructure supporting the innovation of materials is evolving from research conducted by materials scientists and physicists like Stefano Curtarolo, director of the Center for Materials Genomics at Duke University. Curtarolo will visit Rochester Institute of Technology as the next guest in the College of Science Distinguished Speaker Series. His talk, “Topological Insulators within the Materials Genome Initiative: Robustness/fragility, new materials and topological quantum devices,” will begin at 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, in Gosnell Hall, room A-300, with a reception following in the atrium.

Curtarolo will discuss a search model he has developed for mining the quantum materials repository to discover unexplored classes of topological insulators.

These novel materials, which can act as conductors or insulators, have potential applications in the development of emerging technologies, such as spintronics, or magnetoelctronics—advancing solid-state devices like topological insulators—and quantum computers, which will, someday, replace binary digits and transistors with quantum bits or “qubits.”

The Obama administration introduced the Materials Genome Initiative as a national priority in 2011 to double the speed of discovery, development and manufacture of materials and enable technological advancements. The plan aims to accelerate an understanding of the fundamentals of material sciences as the Human Genome Project did with the biological sciences.

The RIT College of Science Distinguished Speaker Series is supported by the John Wiley Jones Science Endowment Fund. The late John Wiley Jones, founder and chairman of the board of Jones Chemical Inc. in Caledonia, was an avid proponent of science education.

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