John Rogers, left, and Theodore Zoli

John Rogers, left, and Theodore Zoli.

The names of the 2009 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellows (the “genius” awards) were announced today, and I want to draw attention to two of the people on the list who are deep in new materials, John Rogers and Ted Zoli.

Rogers, whom I first wrote about last October, is a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been involved in the development of a new form of flexible, stretchable silicon integrated circuit that can wrap around complex shapes, but they can do so without sacrificing electrical performance while stretching, compressing and folding is taking place. Rogers has also used carbon nanotubes to achieve similar results.

In regard to Rogers’ work, the foundation noted:

Such devices can be placed in locations where standard silicon wafer technologies are impractical or impossible; the myriad of potential applications include photovoltaic cells, adaptive optics, electronic textiles, and implantable biomimetic circuits. Through his basic research in nanotechnology, chemical engineering, and applied physics, Rogers is building the foundation for a revolution in manufacture of industrial, consumer, and biocompatible electronics.

Zoli is a structural engineer who is vice president and technical director of bridges with HNTB Corporation. He is also an instructor in civil engineering at Princeton and Columbia Universities.

The foundation praised Zoli’s design aesthetics (“elegant and enduring bridges around the world”) and his technical contributions “to protect transportation infrastructure in the event of natural and man-made disasters:”

Drawing from military research on terrorist weapon technologies and tank armor, he developed a novel composite material that represents the state of the art in lightweight, blast-resistant coverings for a broad array of construction applications. In an era of aging infrastructure and catastrophic structural collapses, Zoli is safeguarding vulnerable links in the nation’s highway system and developing design principles for the construction of robust, new landmarks in the United States and across the globe.

I haven’t been able to find out a whole lot about Zoli’s blast-resistant material, but this release suggests that he has been working with Hardwire Composite Armor Systems, a firm that has several lines of products for use in bridges, construction and military applications.

Congratulations to Rogers, Zoli and the rest of the new MacArthur Fellows.