Rogers Named One Of Nature's '10 Who Mattered This Year'

John A. Rogers, the Lee J. Flory-Founder Chair in Engineering Innovation at Illinois, has been named to Nature magazine’s “10 who mattered this year” for taking innovations from ideas to enginering prototypes.

Such recognition is nothing new for Rogers, who received the Lemelson–MIT award for innovation and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2011. These honors followed a MacArthur Foundation 'genius' fellowship in 2009. At Illinois, he is a professor of materials science and engineering, of chemistry, of mechanical science and engineering, of bioengineering, and of electrical and computer engineering.

In his pioneering work with semiconductor materials and flexible, stretchable electronics, Rogers has applied his expertise to devise technology solutions across such broad fields as solar power, biointegrated electronics, sensing, thin film metrology, and fiber optics.

“John can move effortlessly from science to technology and to practical applications,” said Ilesanmi Adesida, dean of the College of Engineering. "He has a unique vision for the translation of science to products."

Affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, Rogers heads a 40-person research team that combines techniques from physics, chemistry, materials science, and bioengineering, to develop new uses for flexible electronics, piling up patents and launching several spin-off companies along the way.

According to the Nature article, one of Rogers' companies, mc10, is working with the sporting-goods giant Reebok to roll out a product in 2012 that, will measure an athlete's “kinetic health and well-being.” mc10 is also in the process of developing membranes studded with electrodes that can wrap around the brain or heart to provide neurologists and cardiologists with vastly improved diagnostic maps.

Semprius, another spin-off co-founded by Rogers, aims to make photovoltaic arrays that produce solar energy for less than 10¢ per kilowatt-hour, which would make the arrays competitive with coal or gas technologies. The company relies on a transfer-printing technique developed by Rogers to peel tiny, high-efficiency solar cells off gallium arsenide wafers and put them onto arrays.

Previously, he co-founded a successful company, Active Impulse Systems Inc., that commercialized his picosecond laser techniques for analysis of thin films used in the semiconductor industry and was later acquired by a large company. Since joining the Illinois faculty in January 2003, he has distinguished himself as a mentor, encouraging his large group of students to collaboration, perseverance and innovation.

Adesida cited Rogers’ ability to span across incongruent fields of work as a reason for his success.

"His work exemplifies how to effectively bolster sciences and technology so the United States can successfully compete and prosper in the global community of the 21st century.”