Professor Prashant Jain is one of 31 finalists for the Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists in the chemistry category.
Originally founded by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in 2013 and independently administered by the New York Academy of Sciences to elevate the work and research of early-career scientists, three awards will be given in each of the following categories: chemistry, life sciences, and physical sciences and engineering. They are the world’s largest unrestricted prizes for early-career scientists with $250,000 awarded to each of the three laureates, who will be announced on July 22, 2020.
Jain, who is also a professor in the Materials Research Lab and the Beckman Institute and an affiliate faculty member in physics, draws inspiration from photosynthesis, revolutionizing the ability to control and harvest energy from light, according to the June 17, 2020, announcement of Blavatnik finalists.
Jain uses metal nanoparticles to trap light in the form of plasmon resonances, which are collective oscillations of electrons in the metal. This confined light can be used to catalyze or drive chemical reactions that are not otherwise possible in the presence of the catalyst alone.
As an example, Jain has used light to convert unreactive species like carbon dioxide into valuable chemicals that can be used as fuels or chemical feedstocks. Such light-driven chemical manufacturing may prove to be crucial for developing and scaling-up renewable methods of industrial production.
Jain was also recently awarded special recognition by the university in his promotion to full professor in chemistry, effective in August 2020, and was also named to the Alumni Scholar position within the Department of Chemistry.