Moungi Bawendi

West Lafayette High School graduate, Dr. Moungi Bawendi (’78), was selected as a 2023 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry for his research and work with quantum dots.

Dr. Bawendi is the Lester Wolfe Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Bawendi is one of the original participants in the field of colloidal quantum dot research and among the most cited chemists of the last decade. He became a Clarivate Citation Laureate in 2020. He received his A.B. in 1982 from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1988 from the University of Chicago. This was followed by two years of postdoctoral research at Bell Laboratories where he began his studies on nanomaterials. Bawendi joined the faculty at MIT in 1990, becoming Associate Professor in 1995 and Professor in 1996. Additionally, Bawendi has translated knowledge gained in his lab to the marketplace and to the clinic.

Dr. Bawendi credits retired West Lafayette chemistry teacher Mr. Guy for starting him on his career path and as a teacher who changed his life. He fondly recalls that calculators had only recently been introduced in the classroom, having first learned to use a slide rule. Dr. Bawendi was co-valedictorian of his graduating class at West Side and a founder and co-captain of the soccer club.

In 1993, Dr. Bawendi revolutionized the chemical production of quantum dots, resulting in almost perfect particles. This high quality was necessary for them to be utilized in applications. In December 2023, Dr. Bawendi was one of three scientists to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots.

Quantum dots now illuminate computer monitors and television screens based on QLED technology. They also add nuance to the light of some LED lamps, and biochemists and doctors use them to map biological tissue. (Source: nobelprize.org)