Trinity professor wins outstanding researcher award

Professor John Boland won the award for his discoveries surrounding the behaviour of copper

Photo by SFI

The Intel Corporate Research Council (CRC) has awarded Trinity chemistry professor and AMBER principal investigator, Professor John Boland, an Outstanding Researcher Award.

Professor Boland is the fourth Irish researcher to have been given the award, which he received through gaining new insights into the behaviour of the building blocks of copper. His findings were published in the July 2017 issue of Science.

Professor Boland worked in partnership with AMBER researcher Dr Xiaopu Zhang, and a wider international team. They discovered that the granular building blocks in copper can never fit together perfectly and rotating them can cause an unexpected level of misalignment and surface roughness. This behaviour has not been previously witnessed in copper but is a common characteristic in other materials.

The discovery allowed the researchers to measure for the first time the grain boundaries in copper, which can determine its structural integrity and influence properties such as electrical conductivity. The study could affect how nanocrystalline metals such as copper are designed, and may lead to more efficient devices in the future.

The award is only given to researchers in an institute that has a close relationship with Intel, such as Trinity’s own AMBER and CRANN Institutes. Award recipients must also demonstrate a high level of innovation in solving major technology roadblocks.

Speaking with Trinity News, Professor Boland commented on his reception of the award and highlights the importance of collaborative work, saying: “It is of course an honor and a privilege to have received this award. Like every award, this award reflects the collaborative work of the team.” In particular, he commends Dr Zhang for driving the research. He also expressed that he is very happy to have worked with Intel, who he says “guided the research,” as well as Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) for funding the study.

Director of AMBER and Trinity Professor Mike Morris also congratulated Professor Boland, saying: “The research John and his team have done is the result of many hours of meticulous, painstaking study and analysis to  provide fundamental understanding of a challenging problem. Intel have recognised both the brilliance of the work and its contribution to the field by the award of this very prestigious accolade.”

Danielle Olavario

Danielle Olavario is a former SciTech Editor of Trinity News. She is a Microbiology graduate.