Miles Arthur White named finalist for prestigious chemistry prize

Miles Arthur White
Miles Arthur White

This October, Miles Arthur White will share his innovative chemistry research with dozens of influential scientists in Shanghai.

White, a doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry, has been selected as a Reaxys PhD Prize Finalist, one of just 45 finalists chosen from more than 550 candidates whose research was judged on innovation, importance and applicability, as well as the quality of published work. White will present his research at the Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium October 19-20, after which three finalists will be selected as winners.

"Miles Arthur White is one of the most hard working and talented young scientists I have had the pleasure of working with in my eight years as a faculty member at Iowa State,” said Javier Vela, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry. “He has already made great progress in advancing the synthesis and understanding of an important class of semiconductors. He will continue to be a scientific leader and a great ambassador for the best that Iowa State has to offer.”

White’s doctoral work has been a blend of old and new chemistry. He takes materials from old work that had promising properties for use in solar cells or thermoelectric materials – which take waste heat and turn it into usable energy – but were not commercially viable because of the conditions required to make them, such as temperatures higher than 1000 degrees Celsius.

He rediscovers the materials by looking for new, cheaper ways to make them that might be commercially attractive. White is particularly drawn to the excitement of discovery in his work.

“I fell in love with the idea of having no idea what I was searching for and just looking for something really new,” he said. “Ultimately what interests me about chemistry and research in general is the idea of being the first person in the world to be holding a new material or seeing something for the first time.”

The new method of making the materials that White uses results in nano-sized particle forms of the materials, a change that also typically enhances their function. The materials he investigates are also nontoxic and biocompatible, making them preferable alternatives to current materials in commercial use, which are often based on lead, cadmium or other toxic materials.

White is co-advised by Gordon Miller, University Professor, and Vela.