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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Yi Cui, 28

Demonstrated the possibility of building new structures using the basic ingredients of nanotech.

Research fellow, University of California, Berkeley

As a chemistry PhD student at Harvard University, Cui did pioneering work on nanowires, using a combination of lasers and chemical vapors to cajole silicon to form tiny wires that not only conducted electrons but could also switch a current off and on like a transistor. Cui even fabricated nanowires whose switching depended on the presence of specific proteins, so they could serve as ultrasensitive biosensors in tests for early signs of prostate cancer. At Berkeley, Cui has continued to master the art of building functional devices on the nanoscale. Most recently, he has found ways to precisely link together new types of nano building blocks called nanotetrapods -- dots of material a few nanometers wide, each with four nanorods that radiate out in different directions. While other researchers have previously made nanotetrapods, Cui can link many of them together to create a web of circuitry and finely control their electrical properties. "We can get the nanotetrapods to self-assemble into whatever pattern we need," including arrays of transistors, says Cui. Because of their small size, these circuits could in theory be several times faster than the circuits in todays computer chips. By arranging nanotetrapods into branching networks, Cui has transformed them from a raw ingredient into something that might be built into real devices, such as solar cells. And because the nanotetrapods are small enough to register the presence of individual electrons, they could even take advantage of the weird quantum properties of subatomic particles, forming the basis for new types of computers that will operate thousands of times faster than todays fastest machines. While that application is many years away, Cui has already demonstrated the possibility of building new structures using the basic ingredients of nanotech.

2004 TR35 Winners

Marcel Bruchez

Cofounded Quantum Dot to market the new imaging tool to biologists and drug developers

Vladimir Bulovic

Uses organic and nanostructured semiconductors in devices such as light-emitting diodes, lasers, photodetectors, and chemical sensors.

Mayank Bulsara

Developer of strained silicon.

Dustin Carr

Creates nanoscale silicon devices that can detect subatomic-scale movements.

Selena Chan

Designs nanotechnological tools to detect viruses, bacteria, and, for the first time, single molecules of DNA in medical samples.

Martin Colpepper

Builds the machines needed to make high-quality, low-cost nanofabrication a reality.

Yi Cui

Demonstrated the possibility of building new structures using the basic ingredients of nanotech.

LÆtitia Delmau

Helped solve fundamental problems in nuclear-waste treatment

Martha Gardner

Created statistical models and design software to make materials development more efficient.

Verena Graf

Develops fuel cells that are practical for powering cars.

Yu Han

Synthesized nanoscale particles with tiny, precisely defined pores.

Stefan Hecht

Devised a new class of polymer nanotubes and other molecular building blocks. These novel materials have potential applications in the fabrication of nanosized electronic devices.

Darrell Irvine

Crafts nanoparticles that would release chemicals inside the body to "program" immune cells to combat viral infections like HIV, to tolerate transplants, or even to destroy malignant tumors.

Rustem Ismagilov

Develops microfluidics technologies that use tiny droplets to characterize the function and structure of proteins and to model complex biochemical processes.

Albena Ivanisevic

Uses microscopic tips to deposit precise patterns of peptides directly onto tissues in the body.

Ravi Kane

Created a highly potent anthrax treatment in which each drug molecule blocks multiple toxin molecules rather than just one.

Kinneret Keren

Exploits biology-based self-assembly to build molecular electronics. She created a self-assembled molecular-electronic device -- a carbon nanotube transistor -- using a DNA template.

Jamie Link

Etched optical bar codes into micrometer-size pieces of silicon. She hopes to use the technology to detect pollutants in water or cancerous cells within the body.

Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo

Invented nano transfer printing

Tyler McQuade

Creates catalysts to reduce the number of steps needed to synthesize drugs, diminishing environmentally hazardous by-products.

Teri Odom

Patterned silicon to create minuscule "beakers" that hold only zeptoliters.

Leroy Ohlsen

Replaced fuel cells plastic membranes with porous silicon.

Erik Scher

Works on inorganic semiconductor nanomaterials.

Molly Stevens

Shown that she can control the behavior of gold nanoparticles.

Michael Strano

Arrived at a new understanding of carbon nanotube surface chemistry.

William Taylor

Spearheads efforts to commercialize the "plasmatron," a pollution control device that converts diesel fuel to hydrogen, cutting nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 90 percent.

Tsuyoshi Yamamoto

Demonstrated the first-ever two-qubit logic gate in a solid-state device, an advance crucial to building an ultrafast quantum computer.

Shu Yang

Designs "smart" photonic devices for lightning-fast computers and communications networks.

Yuankai Zheng

Simplified the production of magnetic RAM

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