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Portrait of Professor Rodney Ruoff Portrait of Dr. Meryl Stoller

Professor Rodney Ruoff (top) and Meryl Stoller (bottom), University of Texas at Austin winners of the 2011 World Technology Award in the Energy category.

The World Technology Network (WTN) has announced that Professor Rodney Ruoff, and Meryl Stoller of The University of Texas at Austin's Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Materials Science and Engineering program along with Dr. Xin Zhao of the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Laboratory), have been named the winners of the prestigious World Technology Award for Energy, presented by the WTN in association with TIME, Fortune, CNN, Science/AAAS, and Technology Review.

Finalists for the Awards were selected by the WTN Fellows who are eligible to vote for their top five preferences in order from within their own category. The collective preferences of the WTN Fellows determine the finalists. The winners were announced at the ceremony held in the United Nations Delegates Dining Room on October 26th, 2011.

Graphene Materials for Energy Storage

Almost every form of alternative energy and energy system being implemented today, e.g., wind, solar, hybrid electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, depends on electrical energy storage. The three scientists won their award for their work with graphene, a single or few atoms thick, flexible, transparent carbon material. Ruoff and Stoller's research at The University of Texas at Austin has demonstrated the viability of graphene for electrical energy storage, specifically as an electrode material for ultracapacitors, a device similar to a rechargeable battery. The ability to store electrical charge is, in part, a result of an electrically conductive material's surface area, and the theoretical surface area of a single graphene sheet is a remarkable 2630 square meters per gram - equivalent to over 15 football fields of surface area in a single ounce of graphene. This pioneering work was outlined in a seminal 2008 publication entitled "Graphene-Based Ultracapacitors" that has been cited over 500 times since its publication. The Ruoff Research Group has more recently created a new carbon material through the chemical activation of graphene which promises to be an even better electrode material for energy storage. This recent advance was published in the journal Science in 2011. Several of their technical papers have been the most-downloaded papers and/or cited papers published by their respective journals, which is a strong indication that other scientists view their work as important, valid and useful in their own research.

Dr. Ruoff leads a large research group at The University of Texas at Austin and has been studying graphene for over a decade. Stoller, a member of Dr. Ruoff's research team, has just completed and defended his dissertation, and will receive his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering in December 2011. Dr. Zhao received his Ph.D. in Materials Science from the College of William and Mary in 2006.

Ruoff, Stoller, and Zhao join a roster of organizations and individuals from over 60 countries around the world deemed to be doing the most innovative and impactive work.

The World Technology Awards

The World Technology Awards have been presented by the WTN since 2000, as a way to honor those in 20 different categories of science and technology and related fields doing "the innovative work of the greatest likely long-term significance." The annual World Technology Awards process is an intensive global one, lasting many months. The Award nominee pool this year was comprised of over 600 nominees.

The Advisors for 2011 were:

Ray Kurzweil, inventor/futurist/author
Albert Teich, Senior Policy Advisor, American Association for the Advancement of Science/AAAS
Jason Pontin, Editor/Publisher, Technology Review
Lev Grossman, Senior Writer and book critic, TIME; co-author blog "Techland"

The World Technology Network (WTN)

The WTN is a curated membership community comprised of the world's most innovative individuals and organizations in science, technology, and related fields. The WTN and its members - those creating the 21st century -- are focused on exploring what is imminent, possible, and important in and around emerging technologies.

The WTN exists to "encourage serendipity" -- the happy accidents of colliding ideas and new relationships that cause the biggest breakthroughs for individuals and institutions. The WTN works to accomplish its mission through global and regional events for its members and extended audience, to help make connections among them, and to examine the likely implications and possible applications of emerging technologies.

For information about the WTN or to ask further questions about the World Technology Awards, please contact:
James P. Clark, Chairman
The World Technology Network

More information about the Ruoff Research Group

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