Dr. Jeremy Robinson of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is a recipient of the 2012 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).
Robinson studies graphene, a carbon nanomaterial. He's looking at how it can be used to detect chemicals, and how its electronic and mechanical properties can be used for nanoelectronic and radio frequency communication applications.
Robinson joined NRL as a postdoc in 2007 after his older brother, Dr. Josh Robinson, also did his postdoc here: "In fact, my brother sat at this desk," Robinson says with a laugh. "We are always in friendly competition. So this [Presidential award] is the latest feather in my cap."
The older Robinson had demonstrated that adding defects to carbon nanotubes makes them better chemical sensors (he's since joined the faculty at Penn State). The younger Robinson, who joined the fulltime NRL staff in 2008, sees his early work as building on his brother's. Instead of working with carbon atoms bonded in the shape of a tube, however, he studies carbon in a flat sheet. "Things worked out smashingly well," he says, "so it took off from there."
Robinson brings a materials science perspective to his current research, connecting material synthesis, material properties, and applications. The best chemical sensors are those that offer both sensitivity and specificity: "Designing graphene with specific defects is an ideal way to engineer its properties and potentially improve its sensor response."
Taking graphene, he introduces an atom of a different chemical species, like oxygen or fluorine. He'll then test sensor capability, mechanical strength, or optical properties. "We continue to be surprised about the range of interesting experiments and results," he says.
The White House announced the 102 award recipients on December 23, 2013. "We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that w
|Contact: Kyra Wiens|
Naval Research Laboratory