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Two Illinois chemists named top young innovators

Ryan C. Bailey
Photo by
L. Brian Stauffer

Ryan C. Bailey is one of two Illinois professors named the world's top young innovators by Technology Review, the world's oldest technology magazine.

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8/21/2012 | Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor | 217-244-1073;

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Two chemistry professors at the University of Illinois – Ryan C. Bailey and Prashant K. Jain – have been chosen as two of the world’s top young innovators by Technology Review, the world’s oldest technology magazine.

Prashant K. Jain
Prashant K. Jain | Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Selected by the editors of the magazine published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the TR35 recognizes the world’s top innovators under the age of 35 for their contributions to biomedicine, energy, the Web, computing and materials, among other emerging fields. The 2012 honorees were selected from more than 250 nominations.

Bailey’s research interests lie at the interface of bioanalytical and biomaterials chemistry. He was honored for his work with chip-based tests to detect diseases at their earliest stages and then help clinicians choose the best course of personalized treatment. Unlike tests that rely on added fluorescent tags for protein detection, Bailey’s chips are sensitive to the presence of the target molecule itself, which could make it fast and easy for physicians to see results.

Bailey earned his doctorate in chemistry from Northwestern University in 2004 and joined the faculty at Illinois in 2006. He also is affiliated with the department of bioengineering, Institute for Genomic Biology, and Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory at the U. of I.

Jain’s research investigates interactions between light and matter. The magazine recognized Jain for his work with quantum dots with tunable optical properties. By tweaking the dots’ chemical composition, Jain can control the wavelengths of light that the dots emit or absorb. This can be done on the fly allowing the dots to be turned on and off. This control means that the quantum dots could act as optical switches, key components for computers that could use light instead of electricity to transmit data – at ultra-high speeds.

Jain earned his doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2008, and held postdoctoral positions at Harvard University and the University of California-Berkeley before joining the faculty at U. of I. in 2011. He also is affiliated with the department of physics and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

“This year’s TR35 recipients are applying technology to some our generation’s greatest challenges, and innovating to improve the way we live and work,” said Jason Pontin, editor-in-chief and publisher of Technology Review.  “We look forward to watching these young technology leaders grow and advance over the coming years.”

Bailey, Jain and the other TR35 winners for 2012 will be featured in the September/October issue of Technology Review and online.

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