Advanced Materials is Owl about Rice

Rice scientists

A dream team of Rice University scientists who are among the authors of the Rice centennial issue of Advanced Materials gathered at Duncan Hall to celebrate the arrival of the print edition. From left, front: Kurt Kasper, Antonios Mikos, Naomi Halas, James Tour, Ned Thomas, Emilia Morosan, Jun Lou and Jason Hafner. Rear, Pulickel Ajayan, Stephan Link, Robert Vajtai, Eugene Zubarev, Boris Yakobson, Andriy Nevidomskyy and Peter Nordlander. Unable to appear were faculty authors Douglas Natelson, Qimiao Si and Robert Hauge. Photo by Jeff Fitlow

High-impact journal publishes centennial edition with broad overview of materials science at Rice

Materials scientists who received Volume 24, Issue 36 of the respected journal Advanced Materials recently may have noticed it contained Rice University research and nothing else.

That is no mistake. The journal published a special issue this fall focused on Rice, the home of a large number of materials researchers that has been recognized by a Times Higher Education survey as the best in the world.


The Rice centennial issue of the journal Advanced Materials features a graphene owl with fullerene eyes and a nanotube by Rice researcher Evgeni Penev and an image of Lovett Hall. The cover was designed by Donald Soward, web and graphic designer at the George R. Brown School of Engineering.

The occasion was Rice’s Centennial Celebration, which peaks this month with a range of events on campus. But Rice scientists got a thrill when the journal – about as thick and heavy as a small city’s phone book – arrived from the publisher.

The edition “is a cross-cut of some of the exciting work being done that is responsible for the distinction Rice has earned in the field of materials science,” Ned Thomas and Pulickel Ajayan wrote in their introduction. “We find research in materials science at Rice pervades most departments and disciplines in the science and engineering schools and acts as a common thread that has helped to bring together and unify faculty members on topics of great technological challenge.”

Thomas, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering, and Ajayan, the Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and of chemistry, were guest editors of the issue that incorporates work by dozens of Rice professors, researchers and students.

“This is outstanding recognition of the quality of Rice University research in materials across many science and engineering departments,” said Neal Lane, physicist and senior fellow in science and technology policy at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Malcolm Gillis University Professor. “Materials science has been a strength at Rice for decades, and the ongoing research described in this issue confirms that our leadership in this important field continues to grow stronger, ensuring that Rice will remain a world center in materials research for decades to come.”

“Getting a paper in Advanced Materials is a big deal,” Thomas said. “It’s a very high-impact journal. So this is a rare event. The identification of Rice as a place with excellence in materials through the dedication of an entire issue means a great deal to us.”

Back cover

The back cover of Advanced Materials features the word RICE written in microscopic gold nanorods. The tiny rods in this image by Rice chemist Eugene Zubarev and former graduate student Pramit Manna self-assembled on a hydrophilic silicon oxide pattern over a hydrophobic film. The 'I,' according to Zubarev, is about 2 microns wide; for comparison, a human hair is between 50 and 120 microns wide.

“This focused issue is recognition that Rice is doing a lot of good work,” Ajayan added.

Thomas was particularly pleased that while the focus was on materials research, the authors represented many disciplines at Rice. “These articles are meaty and span a huge range of materials,” he said. “Lots of it, of course, involves nanotechnology, because that’s an emphasis at Rice. But this issue is a collaboration between science and engineering, with multiple authors on some of these articles across departments and across schools.”

The articles offer perspectives on Rice research into micro- and nanostructured mechanical metamaterials, gold nanorods, nanophononics, advanced carbon/boron/nitrogen nanomaterials, strongly correlated materials, graphene, simulations of carbon materials, the optoelectronic properties of nanotubes and biomaterials for health care needs.

All of the articles are available online to subscribers, including members of the Rice community.

Primary authors along with Thomas and Ajayan include Eugene Zubarev, Naomi Halas, Qimiao Si, James Tour, Boris Yakobson, Jun Kono and Anthony Mikos.

“This issue is a great image-builder for the Rice materials science group to the worldwide materials community,” Thomas said. “We’re interested in this select group, particularly for attracting top graduate students.

“We were on the journal’s shortlist of potential special issues, and they approached us,” he said. “It was a lot of work, but given what we got back and the timing with the centennial, I’m glad Ajayan and I said yes.”


About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.