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Liangbing Hu, materials science and engineering professor at the University of Maryland (UMD) and director of the Center for Materials Innovation (CMI), is one of 31 finalists for the 2021 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists offered by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences. Hu is one of ten nominees in the physical sciences and engineering category.

Hu, a self-described "wood nanotechnologist," has made headlines numerous times over the last several years for his out-of-the-box and 'green' approach to solving some of the world's most pressing problems. Using wood-derived nano-fibers, Hu has engineered materials to improve energy efficiency, to desalinate and filter water, and as environmentally-friendly building materials. His innovations have led to the development of 'transparent wood,' which is similar to steel in strength, but six-times lighter and able to serve as a replacement for glass with five times better thermal insulation; a wood-based technology that cools a building's temperature by almost 10°C without electricity, and a low-cost wood and water battery for large-scale energy storage on the electric grid, which is why he caught Blavatnik's attention for the third year in a row.

The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists was established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in the U.S. in 2007 and is administered by the New York Academy of Sciences. Three winners of the Awards – in life sciences, chemistry, and physical sciences & engineering ­– will be announced on July 20, each receiving $250,000 as a National Awards Laureate. All of the finalists offer groundbreaking innovations in wide-ranging fields, from the neuroscience of addiction to the development of gene-editing technologies, from designing next-generation battery storage to understanding the origins of photosynthesis, from making improvements in computer vision to pioneering new frontiers in polymer chemistry.

The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists will recognize its 2021 honorees in a ceremony on September 28 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

June 15, 2021

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