Physics Professor Lu Li is one of thirty-six college and university faculty who have been selected to receive the 2015 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Prize for his “Correlated Topological Materials” proposal.

To explain the science behind Professor Li’s proposal: In topological insulators, electrons cannot move through the bulk but can move freely along the surface. Professor Lu Li aims to acquire fundamental understanding of the physical phenomena arising from interactions of many electrons in topological materials. This knowledge could revolutionize technologies in electronic materials for future U.S. Navy electronic systems.

The research aims to investigate the physical signatures of interaction-driven topological phases in electronic materials, particularly in f-electron heavy fermion materials, and d-electron transition metal oxides. The research will acquire fundamental understanding of the interaction-driven physical phenomena that underlie spin, charge, and energy flow in these correlated electromagnetic materials. This knowledge could be the key for revolutionary technologies in electronic materials.

Professor Li will receive a grant with an annual monetary award of $170,000 over a three-year period for his research efforts that hold promise in advancing naval technology.

The Officer of Naval Research created the Young Investigator Award to promote the professional development of early-career academic scientists who have obtained tenure-track positions within the past five years and who show exceptional promise for doing research with potential breakthrough advances for the Navy and Marine Corps. The objectives of the program are to attract outstanding faculty members of higher education institutions to the Department of the Navy's research program, to support their research, and to encourage their teaching and research careers.

More information: 2015 Office of Naval Research YIP recipients