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Winner of the third PANalytical Award: Matteo Bianchini

The PANalytical Award of 2014 has been won by Mr. Matteo Bianchini, affiliated to three French research institutes: the Institut de la Chimie et de la Matière Condensée (ICMCB, Bordeaux), the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL, Grenoble) and the Laboratoire de Reactivité et de Chimie des Solides (LRCS, Amiens). The prize was based on a research article published in Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2 (2014), 10182-10192, titled: ’Multiple phases in the ɛ-VPO4O-LiVPO4O-Li2VPO4O system: a combined solid state electrochemistry and diffraction structural study’. As entrant and first author on the publication Mr. Bianchini is to receive the PANalytical Award trophy, a certificate and € 5,000 in prize money.

Researchers that have never held a professorship and who use laboratory-scale X-ray equipment as their primary analytical technique were eligible to apply for the award. Entries for the award could be submitted during the course of 2014 and had to have been published in the period between 1 January 2013 and 1 December 2014. The winning article was chosen by a committee composed primarily of independent researchers, unaffiliated to PANalytical and was selected from a strong field of entries submitted from across the globe.

In his article Matteo Bianchini describes in detail the properties of a promising new Li-ion system. Besides the electrochemical behavior, the 3-dimensional structures of the system were investigated by using in situ and ex situ X-ray and neutron diffraction. In this way the structural changes of LixVPO4O) (0<x<2) at various voltages were followed and the triclinic structure of the final phase of the reaction could be determined. With this detailed data Mr. Bianchini and coworkers were able to determine a phase diagram for the material, providing a comprehensive understanding of the properties of this redox system.

The judges found the work to be a thorough investigation, that required an exceptional understanding of crystallography. The work appealed to each of the judges due to its relevance to society and especially for the inventive approach that was used, especially in the construction of equipment necessary for the investigation. In particular, a novel electrochemical cell has been developed for in situ diffraction studies on the Empyrean X-ray diffractometer while charging and discharging the energy storage material. The clarity of the presentation together with a meaningful research topic and a proven contribution of crystallography to fundamental research placed this paper at the top of an already excellent list.

Matteo Bianchini studied Physics Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano (Milan, Italy) where he obtained his Master degree in 2012. He is now finalizing his PhD in France with a joint research project between the ILL in Grenoble, the LRCS in Amiens and the ICMCB in Bordeaux.

He is delighted by PANalytical’s recognition of his research and says that “Mobility and exchange of ideas are fundamental in today's scientific research. This award will be helpful while looking for a post-doctoral position abroad and it will facilitate the transition to a new life and to new scientific challenges.”

In the strong field of candidates the jury identified Dr. Timur Kandemir as close runner-up. His publication in Topics in Catalysis, 57 (2014) 188 – 206, ‘Microstructural and Defect Analysis of Metal Nanoparticles in Functional Catalysts by Diffraction and Electron Microscopy: The Cu/ZnO Catalyst for Methanol Synthesis’ was regarded by the judges as ‘a masterful application of X-ray methods’ and there was little to distinguish between this work and the winning entry.

PANalytical proudly supports early-career scientists.

Members of the selection comittee

1. Prof. Radomír Kužel (Professor at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University, Prague)
2. Prof. Hamid Garmestani (Professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology)
3. Prof. Guru Row (Professor at the Solid State and Structural Chemistry unit of the Indian Institute of Science)
4. Dr. Patricia Kidd (Principal scientist Materials and Applications Research at the PANalytical Research Centre on the University of Sussex campus)
5. Dr.Thomas Dortmann (Product Specialist X-ray diffraction, PANalytical)

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