Sep 28, 2020
Professor Richard Kaner

Professor Richard Kaner has been elected a 2020 Fellow of the American Physical Society.

From UCLA Newsroom (by Stuart Wolpert):

Chemist Richard Kaner elected a 2020 Fellow of the American Physical Society

Richard Kaner, who holds UCLA’s Dr. Myung Ki Hong Endowed Chair in Materials Innovation, has been elected a 2020 Fellow of the American Physical Society, a nonprofit organization that advances the knowledge of physics and represents more than 55,000 members worldwide, including physicists in universities, national laboratories and industry.

The APS selected 163 exceptional Fellows this week and praised Kaner for “outstanding contributions to the physics, chemistry, and materials science of nanostructured conducting polymers, superhard metals, and new forms of carbon including superconducting fullerides, carbon nanoscrolls, and graphene.” Kaner is a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and of materials science and engineering, and a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA.

Kaner and his research team have designed a series of remarkable devices. One device creates electricity from falling snow. Kaner and UCLA researcher Maher El-Kady, call the device a snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator, or snow TENG, and reported this first-of-its-kind device June, 2019 in the journal Nano Energy.  The snow TENG is inexpensive, small, thin and flexible like a sheet of plastic.

Kaner’s research team has also produced a separation membrane that separates oil from water and cleans up the debris left by oil fracking. The separation membrane is currently in more than 100 oil installations worldwide. Kaner conducted this work with Eric Hoek, a UCLA professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Kaner, El-Kady and colleagues designed a device in 2017 that can use solar energy to inexpensively and efficiently create and store energy, which could be used to power electronic devices, and to create hydrogen fuel for eco-friendly cars.

The device could make hydrogen cars affordable for many more consumers because it produces hydrogen using nickel, iron and cobalt — elements that are much more abundant and less expensive than the platinum and other precious metals that are currently used to produce hydrogen fuel.

The technology could also be part of a solution for large cities that need ways to store surplus electricity from their electrical grids. “If you could convert electricity to hydrogen, you could store it indefinitely,” Kaner said.

In May 2019, they published research on their design of the first fire-retardant, self-extinguishing motion sensor and power generator, which could be embedded in shoes or clothing worn by firefighters and others who work in harsh environments.

Kaner is among the world’s most influential and highly cited scientific researchers. He has also been selected as the recipient of the American Institute of Chemists 2019 Chemical Pioneer Award, which honors chemists and chemical engineers who have made outstanding contributions that advance the science of chemistry or greatly impact the chemical profession.