Nobel Prize-winning physicist Professor Sir Konstantin ‘Kostya’ Novoselov FRS will join NUS as Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering on 8 April 2019. He will be the first Nobel-prize winner to join a Singapore university.
Prof Novoselov has been an international scientific advisor to the NUS Centre for Advanced 2D Materials since 2015.
Prof Novoselov and Professor Sir Andre Geim were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010 for their ground-breaking achievements with the two-dimensional material graphene. Then 36, Prof Novoselov was the youngest Nobel Laureate in Physics since 1971 and the youngest overall since 1992.
The discovery of graphene not only led to the discovery of a new material that is the world’s most conductive, stretchable and strongest, it also opened up an entirely new area of multidisciplinary research.
Prof Novoselov noted that there are many industries that could benefit from the potential of graphene, whose applications range from electronics and optoelectronics to ion separation and biological membranes.
Graphene is considered by many to be one of the most exciting materials in technological research. It is being tested in desalination filters that produce clean drinking water, batteries, next-generation LED bulbs and solar cells.
Prof Novoselov said, “I’m really excited by Singapore’s strong focus on research and exploration. I have seen first-hand the passion, resilience and spirit of innovation of the University’s talented researchers, particularly in the multidisciplinary area of materials science.
“I am fascinated by the idea of creating and exploring the properties of novel materials. Singapore and NUS are at the forefront of creating such materials and discovering novel applications for them. There is a strong commitment to innovation in Singapore, so I believe we can accelerate research translation and produce the next great technology here. I’m very much look forward to working with my colleagues at NUS and in Singapore to make this ambition a reality.”
NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov and NUS have had a long friendship. We have for many years admired his pioneering work in the area of graphene and 2D materials as well as his relentless drive to chart new paths.”
“We are thrilled that Kostya is joining NUS, and that he will contribute to the scientific community at NUS and in Singapore,” Prof Tan added. “This is a reflection of the vibrancy of the Singapore research community and a resounding recognition of the high quality of research applications produced by our faculty.”
Professor Ho Teck Hua, NUS Senior Deputy President and Provost, said, “We are incredibly proud that Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov will be a member of the NUS and Singapore community. We hope that many of our young Singaporean researchers will be inspired by his commitment to research excellence and his drive to create new materials and develop novel applications for them.”
Prof Ho added that NUS researchers will benefit greatly from having the opportunity to collaborate with Kostya and his lab on exciting research opportunities, to sharpen the spirit of innovation and experimentation at the University.
Beyond his highly noted work in physics, Prof Novoselov is also an artist who trained in traditional Chinese art in China. The reductionist approach in traditional Chinese art, he says, ties in nicely with his background in physics. Among other innovations, Prof Novoselov has used graphene ink in his paintings. He also often steps out of his lab to collaborate with other artists on installations and exhibitions.
“The most exciting breakthroughs are often created at the crossroads between disciplines. The same is applied to art as well, where new media and new techniques can result in very exciting developments. NUS has made impressive strides in materials science and multidisciplinary research applications. It is the leading university in Singapore, in the heart of Asia, where technology is growing at a phenomenal pace. It makes great sense – and science – for me to be at NUS and in Singapore,” said Prof Novoselov.
At NUS, Prof Novoselov will lead a new research group focussing on advanced materials. The group aims to discover interesting combinations of materials that can behave as intelligent sensors and microcomputing devices. He is passionate about collaborating with a new team of PhD students and professors.
“I treat my students as research colleagues. Every one of them could come up with great ideas. So, for me, the right approach is always collaboration,” said Prof Novoselov, who will also serve as an ambassador for science and technology in Singapore, to the world.
Prof Novoselov will continue to have an academic presence at The University of Manchester – the birthplace of graphene – which will further strengthen Singapore’s links with Europe.