2023  Brumley D. Pritchett Lecture


Institute for Materials Symposium on Materials Innovations


March 31, 2023 | 8:00 a.m - 7:00 p.m.

Georgia Tech Global Learning Center | 84 5th Street NW | Atlanta, GA 30308

Materials research at Georgia Tech is broad — from fundamental physics and chemistry to simulation, synthesis, processing, and characterization, to properties that impact structural, chemical, biomedical, electronic, optical, magnetic, thermal, and energy applications. The Institute for Materials (IMat) brings together faculty and students studying materials from across campus to accelerate the pace of research, discovery, deployment, and applications.

To further this mission, IMat and the School of Materials Science and Engineering will cohost the 2023 Brumley D. Pritchett Lecture and IMat Symposium on Materials Innovations on March 31, 2023. The symposium will feature a combination of technical presentations, distinguished seminars, a poster contest, and student recruitment activities.

Connect with Georgia Tech's Materials Research Community

The Symposium also provides an excellent opportunity for external organizations to interact with Georgia Tech students and faculty involved in materials-related research. In addition to the seminars and presentations, there will be social and networking activities scheduled throughout the day.

This event is co-sponsored by the Institute for Materials and the School of Materials Science and Engineering.

Poster Session

Students attending the IMat Symposium on Materials Innovations are encouraged to participate in a poster session from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Interested students should register for the event and select the poster session option on the registration form. Students participating in the poster session should plan to be with their poster the entire time. View additional poster presentation guidelines.

Prizes to be awarded:

First Place - $500
Finalist (two posters will be selected) - $250 each


Time Activity
8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

IMat Welcome

Eric Vogel | Executive Director, Georgia Tech Institute for Materials

Julia Kubanek | Professor and Vice President for Interdisciplinary Research, Georgia Tech School of Mechanical Engineering

9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Industrial Innovations in the Cement and Concrete domain: Recent Developments on the Use of Sustainable Technologies

Speaker: Christophe Levy | Holcim Innovation Center

10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Advances in Radiation Detection and Nuclear Instrumentation: Novel Materials and their Impact

Speaker: Anna Erickson | Associate Chair for Research and Woodruff Professor, Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

11:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Break
11:15 am - 11:30 a.m.


Susan Lozier | Dean, Georgia Tech College of Sciences

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Integrated Soft Materials for Human-Compatible Machines and Electronics

Speaker: Carmel Majidi | Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Time Resolved Imaging of Nanomaterials in Solution Using Liquid Phase Transmission Electron Microscopy

Speaker: Vida Jamali | Assistant Professor, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Tech

2:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Narrow Bandgap Conjugated Polymers with Strong Correlations and Open-Shell Electronic Structures: Towards New Phenomena and Emergent Technologies

Speaker: Jason Azoulay | Associate Professor and Vasser-Woolley Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigator in Sensors and Instrumentation, Georgia Tech School of Chemistry and Biochemistry

2:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. Break
2:45 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

AI/ML fro Materials Discovery and Design

Speaker: Victor Fung | Assistant Professor, Georgia Tech School of Computational Science and Engineering

3:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Pritchett Lecture Introduction
3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Pritchett Lecture: Quantum Simulations of Molecular Properties and Engineered Materials

Speaker: Giulia Galli | Liew Family Professor of Electronic Structure and Simulations, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and the Department of Chemistry, University of Chicago

4:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. Q&A
4:45 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Closing Remarks
5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Reception and Poster Session


2023 Brumley D. Pritchett Lecture

Giulia Galli

Complex materials from first principles: from sustainable energy sources to quantum information science

Featuring Professor Giulia Galli, University of Chicago & Argonne National Laboratory

Abstract: I will discuss recent progress in gaining understanding and scoping design rules for two classes of systems: sustainable materials, namely solids and molecules that are useful to develop sustainable energy sources, and promising systems for quantum technologies. I will present results obtained by carrying out first-principles atomistic simulations, coupled with computational spectroscopic techniques, and I will show that, despite several approximations to the basic equations of quantum mechanics, insightful predictions on physical and chemical processes can be made that are not only corroborated by experiments, but inspire new ones. I will focus on several examples to highlight both the successes as well as the challenges of quantum simulations, including in the study of oxides for photoelectrodes and low power electronics, and defective semiconductors for quantum sensing applications.

Bio: Giulia Galli is the Liew Family professor of Electronic Structure and Simulations in the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Chicago. She also holds a Senior Scientist position at Argonne National Laboratory, where she is the director of the Midwest Integrated Center for Computational Materials.

She is an expert in the development of theoretical and computational methods to predict and engineer material and molecular properties using quantum simulations.

Prior to joining the University of Chicago, she was a professor of chemistry and physics at the University of California Davis (2005-2013) and the head of the Quantum Simulations group at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL, 1998-2005).

She is an elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Science, and the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science. Her recognitions include the Rahman Prize in Computational Physics and the David Adler Award in Materials Physics from the American Physical Society, the Theory Award from the Materials Research Society, the Feynman Nanotechnology Prize in Theory and the Tomassoni-Chisesi prize. In addition, she recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Italian Scientists and Scholar of North America Foundation.


Featured Talks and Speakers

Christophe Levy

Industrial Innovations in the Cement and Concrete Domain: Recent Developments on the Use of Sustainable Technologies

Featuring Christophe Levy, Holcim Innovation Center

Abstract: Being the second most used substance in the world after water, concrete is an old but fantastic material made of cement, aggregates, water and admixtures. Permanently reinventing itself, its main benefits are strength, durability, sustainability, versatility, cost efficiency…

Concrete may look simple, but as a matter of fact, its formulation relies on a wide range of scientific disciplines and competencies (chemistry, physics, mechanics, rheology, durability, digitalization, construction techniques…).

Even though innovation in the construction industry is often considered as conservative, considerable evolution in building materials in terms of stakes, trends, technologies and sciences, has allowed the recent emergence of ground-breaking concrete innovations all along the construction value chain: design, material sourcing, construction productivity and recycling.

At Holcim, our R&D strategy is based on three pillars: Sustainability (low-carbon solutions and circularity), Differentiation (bringing new functionalities to cement/concrete) and Smart Construction (concrete 3D printing, sensors, digitalization) . It is served by the #1 R&D organization and facilities worldwide in our industry, with our main laboratories based near Lyon, France hosting 210 Scientists from 21 different countries. Because we believe in a collective effort through Open Innovation, we are fostering collaboration with players of our ecosystem through several initiatives, working hand in hand with startups and academics, worldwide.

Bio: Christophe Levy earned a B.E. in civil engineering (Paris, 1984) and worked for four years as a new materials engineer on landmark construction job sites in the Central African Republic, Algeria and France (Ile de Ré Bridge, Arche de la Défense in Paris) with Bouygues Construction.

In 1988, he joined Lafarge, now Holcim, where he held different positions in cementitious building materials: research and development and sustainable construction and marketing in France, India, and the United States. With about 80 granted patents, he is passionate about inventing and developing differentiating, sustainable, and pragmatic solutions based on innovative cementitious building materials, such as new cements, new concretes, new admixtures, and new concrete-based building systems.

Today, as Scientific & Quality Director of the Holcim Innovation Center based in Lyon, France, he is expanding the Holcim’s Academic network to develop scientific partnerships in many different countries.
He is also Chairman of the International Congress on the Chemistry of Cement.

Carmel Majidi

Integrated Soft Materials for Human-Compatible Machines and Electronics

Featuring Carmel Majidi, Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract: Progress in soft lithography and soft materials integration have led to extraordinary new classes of soft-matter sensors, circuits, and transducers. These material technologies are composed almost entirely out of soft matter – elastomers, gels, and conductive fluids like liquid metal – and represent the building blocks for machines and electronics that are soft, flexible, and stretchable. Because of their intrinsic compliance and elasticity, such devices can be incorporated into soft, biologically inspired robots or be worn on the body and operate continuously without impairing natural body motion.  In this talk, I will review recent contributions from my research group in creating soft multifunctional materials for wearable electronics and soft robotics using these emerging practices in “soft-matter engineering.” In particular, I will focus on soft robots powered using shape memory materials and soft material architectures for highly stretchable digital electronics, wearable energy harvesting, and electrically responsive actuation. When possible, I will show how the design and operation of these soft-matter technologies can be guided by theoretical modeling methods based on principles of mechanics and discrete differential geometry. In addition to presenting my own research in the field, I will also briefly review broader efforts and emerging challenges in utilizing soft multifunctional materials for applications in wearable electronics, bioelectronic interfaces, and soft robotics.

Bio: Carmel Majidi is the Clarence H. Adamson Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, where he leads the Soft Machines Lab. His lab is dedicated to the discovery of novel material architectures that allow machines and electronics to be soft, elastically deformable, and biomechanically compatible. Currently, his research is focused on modeling, design, and control of soft robotic systems as well as the development of multifunctional materials that exhibit unique combinations of mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties and can function as “artificial” skin, nervous tissue, and muscle.  Majidi has received grants from industry and federal agencies along with early career awards from DARPA, ONR, AFOSR, and NASA to explore challenges in soft-matter engineering and robotics. Prior to arriving at CMU, he had postdoctoral appointments at Harvard and Princeton Universities and received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at UC Berkeley.  



Jason Azoulay

Narrow Bandgap Conjugated Polymers with Strong Correlations and Open-Shell Electronic Structures: Towards New Phenomena and Emergent Technologies

Featuring Jason Azoulay, Georgia Tech

Abstract: For over 40, conjugated polymers (CPs) have been a source of enormous fundamental breakthroughs, enabling foundational insight into the nature of π-bonding and electron pairing, the creation of novel optoelectronic functionalities, and the development of commercially relevant technologies. Despite the achievement of significant technological milestones, the complex structural and energetic heterogeneities that define these materials preclude bandgap control at low energies, tailored interactions with infrared (IR) light, the study of fundamental physical phenomena, and the design and realization of new device functionalities. To address these modern challenges, we have developed precision synthetic methods that provide control of the frontier orbital energetics, coplanarity of the conjugated backbone, intermolecular interactions, and many chemical, electronic, and structural features that affect electronic coherence within these π-conjugated macromolecules, enabling unprecedented levels of bandgap control. The utility of these materials for understanding emergent light-matter interactions that enable the transduction of IR photons and the extension of CPs into high-performance IR optoelectronics will be discussed. We subsequently discovered that narrow bandgaps afforded through extended π-conjugation are intimately related to the coexistence of nearly degenerate electronic states. Through articulating novel mechanisms of spin alignment, topology control, and exchange, we have enabled the synthesis of neutral CPs with ground states that span the entire range from “conventional” closed-shell structures to biradicaloids with varying degrees of open-shell character, to diradicals in both singlet (S = 0) and triplet (S = 1) spin-states. These materials exhibit weaker intramolecular electron-electron pairing and stronger electronic correlations than their closed-shell counterparts, which imparts novel optical, transient, transport, thermal, spin, magnetic, quantum, and coherent phenomena not previously measured in soft-matter (polymer) systems.  These novel attributes have enabled new optoelectronic and device functionalities that cannot be realized with current semiconductor technologies and provide a remarkable platform to study new phenomena at the interface of various fields such as chemistry, condensed matter physics, and quantum matter.

Bio: Jason Azoulay is an associate professor in the School of Polymer Science and Engineering at The University of Southern Mississippi. He will join Georgia Tech in Spring 2023 as an associate professor and Vasser-Woolley Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigator in Sensors and Instrumentation in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He will also hold a joint appointment in the School of Materials Science and Engineering.

Azoulay is an organic, organometallic, and polymer chemist and internationally recognized leader in the development of light- and electrically-active materials. The Azoulay laboratory is highly interdisciplinary with efforts spanning new catalytic methods for polymer synthesis, recycling, and upcycling; electronic, photonic, magnetic, and quantum materials; and the advancement of new infrared devices and chemical sensors. The Azoulay lab will add exciting strengths to Georgia Tech’s leadership in soft-matter and hybrid optoelectronics and synergize with numerous efforts across campus targeting the development and application of advanced polymeric materials.

Anna Erickson

Advances in Radiation Detection and Nuclear Instrumentation: Novel materials and Their Impact

Featuring Anna Erickson, Georgia Tech

Abstract: The core operating principle behind modern radiation detection is the production and collection of information carriers in the form of charged particles or photons. This leaves a niche, and underutilized, role for devices that sense rather than detect radiation. In particular, nanomaterial-based detectors featuring graphene and carbon nanotubes demonstrated the ability to sense the charge carriers generated in adjacent bulk materials. These devices highlighted the potential of both nanomaterial-based detection and alternative radiation detection mechanisms. In this presentation, I will describe the design, fabrication, and testing of a vertically aligned carbon nanotube-based radiation detector that utilizes the field effect to sense radiation. In addition to being able to discern x-ray and proton pulses of varying energy and intensity, this novel detector demonstrates numerous desirable features including small form factor, low power operation, a scalable detection area, and fast response times. The combination of these features into a single device illustrates the promise of integrating nanomaterials into traditional mediums.

Bio: Anna Erickson began at Georgia Tech in November 2012. She is the founder and Principal Investigator of LANNS research group. Prior to joining GT, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the Advanced Detectors Group at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory after accomplishing her Ph.D. study at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was promoted to full professor in 2022 for her outstanding achievements and dedication to the Woodruff School and Georgia Tech.

Erickson’s primary research focus is on advanced detector design and analysis, especially as applied to safety and non-proliferation. She is involved in fast reactor remote monitoring using antineutrinos, fuel characterization through fission product signatures for non-proliferation applications, and non-traditional detector design and characterization, including Cherenkov counters and robust detectors. Her teaching interests are in advanced experimental detection for reactor and nuclear nonproliferation applications, radiation dosimetry and fast reactor analysis.

Victor Fung

AI/ML for Materials Discovery and Design

Featuring Victor Fung, Georgia Tech

Abstract: The impressive advances made in machine learning in recent years have produced models such as GPT for language processing and Stable Diffusion for image generation that have captured the attention and imagination of the public. As similar models and approaches make inroads toward scientific applications, one may wonder how these may be applied to the materials field. In this talk, we will discuss opportunities and challenges for machine learning in materials building upon these recent developments and our group's ongoing work. Specifically, we will discuss the potential of graph neural networks as foundational models applicable to a broad range of material domains, as well as how we can formulate materials problems for generative models to accelerate the discovery of new materials.

Bio: Victor Fung is an assistant professor in the School of Computational Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech. Prior to this role, he was a Eugene P. Wigner Fellow working in the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He obtained his B.A. in chemistry from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Riverside. His research seeks to harness the power of computing and machine learning to accelerate the chemical discovery process, with the eventual goal of fully realizing materials by inverse design. This includes developing novel methods and tools which incorporate chemical information to model phenomena at the atomic scale, as well as design new materials from the ground up, atom-by-atom. His work also involves establishing automated, data-driven and domain-informed ecosystems for materials and chemical discovery which can be deployed on the latest supercomputers.

Vida Jamali

Time Resolved Imaging of Nanomaterials in Solution Using Liquid Phase Transmission Electron Microscopy

Featuring Vida Jamali, Georgia Tech

Abstract: Transmission electron microscopy offers structural and compositional information with atomic resolution. Yet, traditionally, electron microscopes require the sample to be fully solid (either dry or vitrified) to withstand the vacuum in the chamber of the microscope. During the past decade, however, researchers have successfully developed microfabricated e-chips with silicon nitride windows to encapsulate a small amount of liquid sample that is vacuum sealed and can be imaged on a regular electron microscope. Since then, liquid phase transmission electron microscopy (LPTEM) has been used to characterize the nanoscale dynamics of a wide range of nanomaterials (metallic, semiconductor, polymers, and biomaterials) in their native liquid environment. LPTEM offers an unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution that provides a unique view of dynamic processes in liquids. In this talk, we will discuss recent advancements in developing the LPTEM technique and areas that this invention has impacted. We conclude by providing an outlook on how this unique nanoimaging technique can be leveraged to address key materials challenges and provide an exciting view of liquid-phase materials and processes.

Bio: Vida Jamali is an assistant professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech. She earned her Ph.D. in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Rice University under the guidance of Professor Matteo Pasquali and her B.S. in chemical engineering from Sharif University of Technology. Jamali was a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Paul Alivisato's lab at UC Berkeley and Kavli Energy Nanoscience Institute before joining Georgia Tech. The Jamali Research Group uses experimental, theoretical, and computational tools such as liquid phase transmission electron microscopy, rheology, statistical and colloidal thermodynamics, and machine learning to study the underlying physical principles that govern the dynamics, statistics, mechanics, and self-organization of nanostructured soft materials, in and out of thermal equilibrium, from both fundamental and technological aspects.


2023 Gold IMat Symposium Sponsors

logos for Kimberly Clark, Southwire, BASF, and Novelis

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