Billinge Wins 2018 Warren Award

May 08 2018

Simon J. L. Billinge, Professor of Materials Science, was selected to receive the 2018 Warren Award of the American Crystallographic Association.

The ACA website states, this award "recognizes an important recent contribution to the physics of solids or liquids using x-ray, neutron, or electron diffraction techniques."

Billinge's career started in the United Kingdom where he earned a BA in Materials Science at Oxford. He moved to the United States, earned a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania in Materials Science and moved to Los Alamos where he was a post-doctoral fellow. He joined the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State University and rose through the academic ranks.  In 2008, he moved to his current position at Columbia University.

Materials research seeks to design novel materials where the atomic arrangements on the nanometer scale can be controlled to obtain some desired functionality. One impediment to this is the so-called "Nanostructure Problem." Billinge is being honored for his role in both highlighting this problem and providing seminal contributions to solving it for a bulk sample of nanoparticles. The nanostructure problem is a statement of the fact that when materials get very small (below about 10 nm), traditional x-ray crystallography breaks down because it is based on Bragg scattering which presumes periodic structures. Billinge's work is built around the use of atomic pair distribution function (PDF) methods. He has championed a generic approach which combines diverse experimental results and theory in a coherent computational framework.  He is considered the world leader in characterizing structures of nanomaterials. His most significant contributions have come in the application of sophisticated x-ray and neutron diffraction techniques to study local structure property relationships in complex solid state materials.

Billinge is a committed teacher and mentor. Not only has he made highly significant scientific discoveries, he has further developed the theory underpinning the use of PDF approaches to structure analysis and the software tools needed to exploit this approach. These widely used tools have contributed to the explosive growth in the use of PDF analysis for a wide variety of different structure problems.  He has taught numerous workshops and has mentored high school students, undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting professors.

Billinge is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the Neutron Scattering Society of America, and received, with his collaborator Takeshi Egami, the J.D. Hanawalt Award from the International Centre for Diffraction Data.

The award presentation and Dr. Billinge's lecture is scheduled for Sunday, July 22, at 8:00am.

In addition to this lecture, Prof. Billinge was also chosen to present two talks for the 2018 Busse Lecture Series of the University of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy.

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