Susan Sinnott, professor of materials science and engineering (MatSE) and of chemistry and head of the Department of MatSE, is one of six Penn State faculty members to receive 2022 Faculty Scholar Medals for Outstanding Achievement.
Established in 1980, the award recognizes scholarly or creative excellence represented by a single contribution or a series of contributions around a coherent theme. A committee of peers reviews nominations and selects candidates.
Nominators said Sinnott, who was awarded for physical sciences, has made outstanding contributions to the development and utilization of computational methods for understanding and creating two-dimensional materials. They lauded her groundbreaking advances in discovering new materials as well as using computational methods for determining the structure of materials. Sinnott is an international expert on developing simulations that illuminate how processes can shape the structure of materials.
A nominator said Sinnott is “one of the leaders in the field of computational materials science, who has made numerous significant and seminal contributions to a range of areas of materials science, and is well known for developments of tools and new approaches for atomistic simulations of materials.” Another added, “she is clearly one of the foremost leaders in the field of computational materials science and over the past five years she has established herself at the forefront of the field of discovery and structure-property determination of 2D materials.”
Sinnott is known for developing new tools and approaches for simulations at the atomic level of materials, nominators said. This approach has led to discoveries in novel phenomena, new designs, the identification of relationships between chemical and atomic structure and electronic and mechanical properties.
“Dr. Sinnott is an outstanding, internationally recognized scientist and one that continues to innovate herself,” a nominator said. “This is reflected in the breadth of her research, the number and quality of her publications, as well as the numerous recognitions from the community, including being a fellow of five different professional societies.”
Through the use of computational chemistry, Sinnott made groundbreaking advances for discovering and understanding 2D materials. Nominators said her contributions make possible system-structure property relationships for new materials. Specifically, her work understanding unconventional 2D superconductors that can withstand high temperatures will advance quantum communications and quantum computing, among other potential applications. Nominators said this work is critical for creating 2D materials with new functions.
“This was a tour-de-force study that will undoubtedly inspire more research in this important area of materials physics,” a nominator said.
Along with Richard Hennig, of the University of Florida, Sinnott developed a python tool called MPInterfaces, which allows the rapid screening of bulk materials that would make great candidates for 2D materials. Data gathered through the software populates the open-source database “Materials Project.” Nominators said this data is critical to advancing the experimental creation of these complex yet potentially useful novel materials.
“Dr. Sinnott is clearly one of the foremost leaders in the field of computational materials science and over the past five years she has established herself at the forefront of the field of discovery and structure-property determination of 2D materials,” a nominator said.