UCSB Materials Professor Chris Van de Walle has been awarded the 2023 Materials Theory Award from the Materials Research Society (MRS). The MRS is the leading professional society dedicated to advancing materials science. The society gives a single Theory Award each year, in recognition of “exceptional advances made by materials theory to the fundamental understanding of the structure and behavior of materials.”
Prof. Van de Walle was specifically recognized for his contributions in developing ab initio methodologies for understanding the effect of point defects on light emission in wide bandgap semiconductors. The award includes a $5,000 cash prize, a trophy, and a certificate, given at the Fall 2023 MRS meeting.
This award is a significant milestone in Prof. Van de Walle’s remarkable research career, during which he has coupled mastery of computational and condensed matter physics with an ability to identify critical challenges for technological applications. Along with his work on point defects, he has made significant contributions to the understanding of interfaces and nonradiative recombination rates in semiconductor materials. His findings have induced paradigm shifts in the understanding of semiconductors, and his publications serve as authoritative guides in the field. Indeed, the impact of Prof. Van de Walle’s work is evident not just through prizes such as the MRS Theory Award, but also through the remarkable number of citations to his publications. These are a testament to his remarkable ability to not only perform exceptional scientific research, but also to effectively communicate his results, which bridge the gap between theorists and experimentalists who seek guidance in understanding and designing materials.