BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A chemist at the University at Buffalo has been
recognized by the American Chemical Society for his research of a
material that could be used for the next generation of
Sarbajit Banerjee, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry, will
be awarded the ExxonMobil Solid-State Chemistry Award at the
American Chemical Society Fall meeting in August. The award will be
presented by the ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry.
The award is given "to recognize significant contributions in
solid-state chemistry by junior faculty at U.S. institutions and
support solid-state chemistry as a recognized discipline,"
according to the ACS website. Banerjee is the sole recipient this
"It's definitely an honor to be recognized so early in my
career," Banerjee said, acknowledging that the accolade rewards
everyone involved in his project, especially graduate and
undergraduate students. "It's essentially recognition from the
community that what we do is important."
Banerjee received his undergraduate education at the University
of Delhi and his doctorate at Stony Brook University. Before coming
to teach at UB, Banerjee was a postdoctoral research scientist at
Banerjee's research included the study of vanadium oxide,
currently used in night-vision technologies. Vanadium oxide is a
unique substance that switches between metallic and non-metallic
phases at a specific temperature, usually about 160 degrees
Fahrenheit. By reducing vanadium oxide to a nanomaterial, and by
doping the material with tungsten, Banerjee and his team have
reduced the tipping point to a minimum of around -4 degrees
"When we look at crystal structures, what we find is that when
you make them small, like a nanoparticle, the arrangement of atoms
can change," said Banerjee. "We can get all these cool materials
that don't normally exist at room temperature. We have a lot of
control over how we stabilize them, too."
Another benefit of using these oxides as nanomaterials,
according to Banerjee, is that they act more predictably in smaller
"You can uncover new phenomena that are obscured in larger
materials," he said. "You can uncover its intrinsic properties
because there aren't as many defects in it."
The research could lead to a new generation of smart materials
that could be used in windows, for example, for thermally specific
heat conductivity. Banerjee also notes that the material could
potentially be used for "high-mobility switching elements, and the
next generation of transistors."
Banerjee is interested in how different disciplines can
collaborate to find chemical solutions to human problems.
"Science is becoming more interdisciplinary as time goes by,"
says Banerjee. "It's actually part of what UB 2020 is all about. A
lot of challenges are at the intersection of different
In his classes, Banerjee says, he often has students studying
engineering, as well as those who pursue the natural sciences. For
him, the examination and manipulation of the chemical world has
merit for everyone in it, not just those vested in academic
interests. Chemistry, he says, is a point of view, which unlocks
the secret structures within the objects humans take for
"Solid state chemistry really is the way I see the world,"