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Nikhil Koratkar, PhD CREDIT Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Nikhil Koratkar, Ph.D., John A. Clark and Edward T. Crossan Professor of Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has been named a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS). Koratkar was recognized for his pioneering contributions to the field of nanoscale science and technology and the use of nanoscale materials in composites and energy storage devices. Each year, no more than 0.05% of the society membership is recognized by their peers for election to the status of fellow of the American Physical Society.

The APS Fellowship Program recognizes members who have made advances in physics through original research and publication, or made significant innovative contributions in the application of physics to science and technology. Koratkar was recognized by the Division of Materials Physics “For his distinguished contributions to nanoscale science and technology, including the discovery of partial van der Waals transparency in graphene, and pioneering the use of nanostructured materials in composites and energy storage devices.”

“The APS Fellow award holds special significance for me,” said Koratkar. “As a young teen, my mother gave me a book to read titled Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman. This book changed my life. Until that point, I had wanted to emulate my father and become an Army Officer. The book had a profound impact on me and inspired me to pursue a career in academia and research. In 1946, nearly 77 years back to this day, my idol Richard Feynman was elected APS fellow. Another man who I idolized in high school was the legendary Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute physics educator Robert Resnick. Professor Resnick was elected APS fellow in 1967. To follow in the footsteps of your idols is gratifying and humbling.”

Koratkar's research focuses on the synthesis, characterization, and application of nanoscale materials. He is studying the fundamental mechanical, electrical, thermal, optical and optoelectronic properties of these materials and developing a variety of composites, coating, and energy storage device applications using these materials. Koratkar, who holds a joint appointment in mechanical engineering and materials science, joined the Rensselaer faculty in 2001. To date, he has graduated 27 Ph.D. students, many of whom hold leadership positions in academia and industry today. 

Koratkar has co-authored more than 240 archival journal papers, including over a dozen papers in NatureScienceNature MaterialsNature Reviews Materials, Nature Communications, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. To date, his papers have garnered over 33,000 citations and Clarivate Analytics has named him in their highly cited researchers list on multiple occasions. Besides scientific publications, Koratkar is a co-inventor on four battery patents. He has co-founded a battery company — Alsym Energy. Alsym is based out of Woburn, Massachusetts, employs about 50 full-time employees, and has invented and is commercializing a new class of non-flammable, non-toxic, low-cost and sustainable batteries for stationary storage, maritime, and automotive applications.

Koratkar serves as an editor of the Elsevier journal Carbon. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He has won several international awards including the ASME Gustus L. Larson Memorial Award and the Electrochemical Society’s SES Young Investigator Award. Koratkar is a recipient of Rensselaer’s William H. Wiley 1866 Distinguished Faculty Award, the National Science Foundation’s Career Award, and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from his Alma Mater, the Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay.

Koratkar’s research is helping to shape public opinion on nanotechnology and energy storage. His work has been featured by major media outlets such as the New York TimesWall Street JournalUSA TodayMSNBCScientific AmericanPopular SciencePopular MechanicsIndian ExpressEconomic Times, and U.S. News & World Report. Koratkar has been interviewed by BBC Radio and Northeast Public Radio and by CBS and ABC TV News in Albany, New York. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has also issued multiple press releases to disseminate his NSF-funded work to the broader public. 

“Dr. Koratkar is a world leader in his field,” said Shekhar Garde, dean of Rensselaer’s School of Engineering. “His ability to translate fundamental molecular-level insights into solving some of the pressing energy storage challenges is exceptional. Dr. Koratkar is helping to create environmentally and economically sustainable solutions to our energy needs. I congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition.”

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