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Awards and Recognition | Physical Sciences and Engineering

Argonne staff recognized with 2021 Physical Sciences and Engineering Excellence Awards

Each year, individuals and teams who have distinguished themselves through outstanding achievement and personal excellence are selected to receive this honor.

The Physical Sciences and Engineering (PSE) Excellence Awards recognize teams and individuals each fiscal year for outstanding achievements and distinguished service. The PSE directorate is proud to announce the recipients of the 2021 PSE Excellence Awards:

  • Ben Blomberg from PSE’s Physics (PHY) division
  • Maria Chan and Pierre Darancet from PSE’s Nanoscience and Technology (NST) division
  • Anand Bhattacharya, Dillon Fong, Jidong Jiang, John Pearson and Xi Yan from PSE’s Materials Science Division (MSD); Brandon Fisher and Jianguo Wen (NST); and Hua Zhou from Argonne’s X-ray Science Division (XSD

2021 PSE Excellence Award: Operational Excellence category

PSE recognizes Ben Blomberg (PHY) for his outstanding effort to maximize operating hours for the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System (ATLAS) during limited operations, establishing a new model to sustain the ATLAS scientific program while upholding a commitment to safety. Blomberg worked tirelessly during this period, taking on long hours and an inconsistent schedule to ensure ATLAS had appropriate coverage. When ATLAS had multiple operator vacancies, Blomberg continued to fill the gaps in the schedule and simultaneously trained new employees to fill these positions. Blomberg’s approach during this period allowed the ATLAS scientific program to return to 24/7 operation in early 2021. His work embodies Argonne’s Core Values of Impact, Safety and Teamwork.

2021 PSE Excellence Award: Programmatic Scientific Achievement category

PSE recognizes Maria Chan and Pierre Darancet (NST) for their success in combining materials physics with artificial intelligence and machine learning to unravel the complex structure of borophane. Since borophene — single layer, two-dimensional boron — was first synthesized in 2015, there has been intense research in understanding its fundamental properties and enabling its use in various applications. The addition of hydrogen to create hydrogenated-borophene — or borophane — is an important first step towards its deployment in optoelectronic applications. In a study published in Science, Chan and Darancet used density functional theory calculations, scanning tunneling microscopy simulations and computer vision software developed by Chan to determine the structure of borophane synthesized and characterized by collaborators at Northwestern University. Given the success in unraveling this complex structure, the team’s automated analytical technique could be applicable in identifying other complex nanostructures in the future.

2021 PSE Excellence Award: Programmatic Scientific Achievement category

PSE also recognizes Anand Bhattacharya, Dillon Fong, Jidong Jiang, John Pearson and Xi Yan (MSD); Brandon Fisher and Jianguo Wen (NST); and Hua Zhou from (XSD) for the discovery of two-dimensional superconductivity at the interface of KTaO3 at high temperatures. The electronic structures found at interfaces between materials can allow unconventional quantum states to emerge, which may not be observed in a bulk material. There is considerable interest in the development of new platforms that exhibit superconductivity, and especially 2D superconductivity, which is extremely rare. The team’s observance of this phenomenon highlights the possibility of generating unique types of superconductivity in a broader range of materials systems. A paper describing the team’s work was published in Science.

About the PSE Excellence Awards

Each fiscal year, up to two individuals or teams are recognized within two categories: Programmatic Scientific Achievement and Operational Excellence. These awards provide a unique opportunity to celebrate our colleagues’ discoveries, collaborations and professional accomplishments that exemplify the lab’s Core Values of impact, safety, respect, integrity and teamwork. Award recipients must be regular, term or postdoctoral employees at the time of the award to be eligible.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.