Distinguished Research Professor
Virtually anyone who drops a cell phone can thank Professor Punit Boolchand, PhD, if the screen does not break.
Boolchand and his research team at the College of Engineering and Applied Science have changed the way materials scientists think about glass. This understanding contributed to the creation of Corning Gorilla Glass used in more than 1 billion cell phones and tablets around the world.
John C. Mauro, senior research manager at Corning, said Boolchand’s work will shape the company’s future research as well.
“Put simply, he has changed our atomic-level understanding of these ‘inexplicable’ materials to an extent far beyond anything since the theory of superconductivity,” Mauro said in a letter endorsing the nomination of Boolchand as UC’s Distinguished Research Professor (STEMM).
Boolchand has taught both physics and engineering at the university since 1969. He also has served as visiting faculty at Stanford University in California, the University of Hyderabad in India and the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris. He is also the director of UC’s Solid State Physics and Electronic Materials Laboratory.
In more than 230 published papers funded by nearly $7 million in research grants, Boolchand has examined such diverse topics as gamma optics, oxide superconductors and optoelectronic materials. He has presented his findings at physics and engineering conferences around the world.
In his nomination letter, Teik C. Lim, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science, called Boolchand’s research groundbreaking.
“Dr. Boolchand has a passion for research that has produced an extremely impressive body of work and has impacted new discoveries and developments in his field,” Lim said.
Boolchand previously received UC’s George Rieveschl Jr. Award for Distinguished Scientific Research and was nominated for the American Physical Society’s prestigious Oliver E. Buckley Prize for his work on the “Intermediate Phase,” a breakthrough in glass research now named for him.
Boolchand especially takes pride in helping to launch the careers of more than 45 graduate students he has mentored at UC. He stays in touch with many of them in their professional positions in academia, industry and government labs.
“One reason we were able to do so much in the fundamental research of disordered materials was in part because of these students,” Boolchand said.
On the way to his university office each day, Boolchand walks past a plaque that reads: “A mind that is stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimension.”
“That is the truth. Once you find a new way of thinking, you can never go back,” Boolchand said. “That’s what’s happening more and more in our field.”
Author: Michael Miller