One thing we missed in the rundown of the Faculty Awards banquet is the announcement of the 2013 Distinguished Research Professors. Among the three awardees is one of our favorite researchers and teachers from the department of chemistry, John Stickney.
Stickney has received worldwide recognition for his contributions to the field of electrochemistry. He singlehandedly invented a method of producing extraordinarily thin semiconductors created one atomic layer at a time through a process he called electrochemical atomic layer epitaxy, or EC-ALE. He patented this approach and founded a company to market equipment for making materials by this process. The materials produced by EC-ALE are of a quality previously unmatched through traditional methods of electrodeposition, and they have great potential in a number of technological applications, including solar energy conversion, as specialty sensors and for catalysis, the process of accelerating a chemical reaction by a catalyst.
I am fortunate to have spent time with Stickney, intervewing and writing about his work several times over the years. The EC-ALE process is fascinating and he can make it sound easy to understand and obvious, a true mark of genius in my view. But more than that, Stickney is as funny and engaging as he is serious and creative about his work. Even in formal settings, he is able to talk about very complex science in a way that makes you want to learn more. He is intrigued and fascinated by his field, and maybe that is one of the keys to thinking creatively about sensors and semiconductors.
The title Distinguished Research Professor is bestowed upon faculty who are internationally recognized for their original contributions to knowledge and whose work promises to foster continued creativity in their discipline. That describes John Stickney perfectly. Congratulations.