Meet Graphene Week speaker James Hone
James Hone, Professor and Chair of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University, is one of our keynote speakers at Graphene Week 2021.
Europe’s leading graphene conference is coming very soon. The live Graphene Week event runs from 20 – 24 Sep 2021, bringing together a diverse range of speakers from industry, academia, enterprise and beyond. In preparation for the big event, we took the opportunity to get to know our speakers, and ask them why they’re so excited about Graphene Week 2021.
Today, meet James Hone: Professor and Chair of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University, USA, and Director of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Centre (MRSEC) at Columbia for seven years and counting.
First off, please can you tell me a bit about yourself and your background?
I am a Professor at Columbia University, and I have a PhD in condensed matter physics. I am also the Director of MRSEC at Columbia, and I’ve been involved with graphene since the very beginning. It’s really exciting to be part of a field since its inception, and Columbia has always been a hotbed for graphene research.
Why should people be excited about Graphene Week 2021?
Graphene Week is the premier conference in the field. The best of the best will be there, talking about their latest results. We’ll see basic science, and we’ll also see how the more applied areas have progressed. The live conference is where lots of practical applications will be showcased.
We’ll also be able to see where the challenges are. Which challenges do we need to solve before we see new applications of graphene? This is the place to find out.
Please can you tell me a bit about your field of research?
Just over ten years ago, we discovered the benefits of stacking graphene on top of hexagonal boron nitride (hBN). We became interested in stacking the layers in different ways to make different van der Waals heterostructures.
Thousands of scientists are doing this now, but my group in particular seeks to push the boundaries of the field. We’re continually making new stacks of materials, finding new applications and devising new ways to control them. We also do fundamental material synthesis, and we are ever on-the-hunt for ultra-pure materials with quantum properties.
How did you first become interested in this?
I have been interested in novel materials like graphene ever since I was a PhD student. Back then, carbon nanotubes were the hot new thing. We all wanted to figure out how they worked and what we could do with them. For instance, we’d put wires on them to see how they behave. From then on, I was hooked.
That simple challenge – the spirit of discovery – continues in my work to this day.
Why are graphene and layered materials so important?
Graphene has so many ‘superlative’ properties. It’s super-strong, it has ultra-high electronic mobility, it’s flexible, it has novel optical properties, and so-on. And all of these properties are tuneable, as well.
What are you going to be presenting at Graphene Week?
It’s not certain yet, but I have a lot of ideas. In particular, I want to showcase our fundamental work on materials synthesis, which has made really good progress. As well as this, I’m going to be on the lookout for new opportunities to collaborate with Graphene Flagship scientists.
What’s something you’re personally looking forward to at Graphene Week?
I’m really looking forward to the personal interaction. There are always a lot of fantastic people at Graphene Week, and I’m interested to see how we’re all going to connect online – on the Graphene Flagship’s Graphene Hub.
We’ve all been hunkering down for the last year, so it’s going to be really nice to all come together again through the virtual event. I’m really excited for it.
Learn more about Graphene Week: https://graphene-flagship.eu/events/graphene-week-2021/