Author Profile: Delia Milliron

Delia Milliron talks to Russell Johnson about her research on nanocrystal building blocks and why it helps to be relentlessly optimistic

Delia Milliron1.      Which research projects are you working on at the moment?
We are studying the electronic properties that arise when inorganic nanocrystals are used as building blocks to construct mesostructured materials. This includes fabricating inorganic nanocomposite materials and mesoporous architectures. I am particularly interested in electrochemical materials including those for electrochromic devices and batteries, in which many individual properties such as electron and ion transport, optical absorption, and phase behaviour combine to determine the overall functional characteristics.

2.      What motivated you to focus on inorganic nanoscience?
Nanoscience offers a whole new frontier in manipulating properties through the arrangement of matter. Understanding how the size, shape, and arrangement of nanoscale building blocks combine with atomic scale structure and composition to determine material properties is exciting and often unexpected.

3.      What are the hot topics in materials chemistry at the moment?
Hybrid materials and heterogeneous assemblies of materials are hot because they can help us realize multifunctional properties for things like energy conversion.

4.      What current problem would you like to see science provide a solution to?
Science naturally connects people across national and cultural boundaries in discourse and debate over shared passions. I would like to see the scientific community find some ways to engage effectively with those around us to increase understanding of and interest in the global nature of humanity.

5.      What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your career?
Helping students evolve into confident, critically astute scientists is incredibly satisfying. I also love having a vibrant exchange with a collaborator that leads to a breakthrough idea neither of us would have arrived at in isolation.

6.      What’s the secret to being a successful scientist?
To be a scientist, you must be relentlessly optimistic. Honestly, most great ideas fail, at least initially, yet you need to have the same driven enthusiasm for each new idea or else you will be held back from accomplishing anything bold. At the same time, when you do succeed you must seek out criticism from every perspective to make your science truly excellent.

7.      Which scientist past or present do you most admire?
Leonardo da Vinci.

8.      If you weren’t a scientist, what would you be?
I have never loved anything the way I do science, but architecture fascinates me. The merging of daring design and technical prowess in the architecture of modern buildings is inspiring.

If you’re interested to learn more about research in the Milliron lab you can read a selection of papers below or check out their research pages on the group website.

  1. Comparison of Extra Electrons in Colloidal n-Type Al3+-Doped and Photochemically Reduced ZnO Nanocrystals: Alina M. Schimpf, Stefan T. Ochsenbein, Raffaella Buonsanti, Delia Milliron and Daniel Gamelin, Chem. Commun., 2012, DOI: 10.1039/C2CC34635D (Accepted Manuscript)
  2. Nanoscale phase change memory materials: Marissa A. Caldwell, Rakesh Gnana David Jeyasingh, H.-S. Philip Wong and Delia J. Milliron, Nanoscale, 2012, 4, 4382-4392
  3. Polyoxometalates and colloidal nanocrystals as building blocks for metal oxide nanocomposite films: Anna Llordes, Aaron T. Hammack, Raffaella Buonsanti, Ravisubhash Tangirala, Shaul Aloni, Brett A. Helms and Delia J. Milliron, J. Mater. Chem., 2011, 21, 11631-11638
  4. Driving oxygen coordinated ligand exchange at nanocrystal surfaces using trialkylsilylated chalcogenides: Marissa A. Caldwell, Aaron E. Albers, Seth C. Levy, Teresa E. Pick, Bruce E. Cohen, Brett A. Helms and Delia J. Milliron, Chem. Commun., 2011, 47, 556-558
  5. Synthesis and size-dependent crystallization of colloidal germanium telluride nanoparticles: Marissa A. Caldwell, Simone Raoux, Robert Y. Wang, H.-S. Philip Wong and Delia J. Milliron, J. Mater. Chem., 2010, 20, 1285-1291

Delia Milliron is a Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and the Deputy Director of the Molecular Foundry, a research center and user facility for nanoscience supported by the U. S. Department of Energy. She studied Chemistry and Materials Science as an undergraduate at Princeton University, where she developed a passion for electronic materials research. She earned a PhD in Physical Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley and worked for IBM’s research division before coming to LBNL. Her research is motivated by the potential for nanomaterials to introduce new functionality to and reduce manufacturing costs of electronic materials and technologies with a recent emphasis on energy efficient “smart” window coatings. The fundamental questions and curiosities arising from this inspiration have led her to push the frontiers nanocrystal chemical control, to uncover size dependent properties, and especially to understand how the arrangement of nanoscopic building blocks gives rise to function on the macro scale. She has recently garnered an R&D 100 award, an MDV Innovators award, and a DOE Early Career research award.

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