Dr. Carter T. White Receives the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Senior Professional

3/19/2009 - 9-09r
Contact: Amanda Bowie, (202) 767-2541

Dr. Carter T. White, Senior Scientist for Theoretical Chemistry at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), is a recipient of the 2008 Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Senior Professional. Each year, the President recognizes and celebrates a small group of career Senior Executives and senior career employees with the Presidential Rank Award. Recipients of this prestigious award are strong leaders, professionals, and scientists who achieve results and consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service.

Dr. White, a member of the Navy Technology Center for Safety and Survivability, was honored with the Presidential Rank Award for his world-class, multidisciplinary work advancing the frontiers of knowledge in two distinctly different areas of research: nanoscience and the shock compression of condensed matter.

He has been a leader in the field of carbon nanostructures since its inception. In the earliest published paper devoted to single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), he and coworkers predicted that, if made, SWCNTs would exhibit exceptional conducting properties. Their work, highlighted in Richard Smalley's Nobel Prize address, helped stimulate worldwide efforts first to synthesize SWCNTs and then to measure the properties of these extraordinary nanowires, which can have diameters 100,000 times smaller than a human hair and lengths exceeding an inch. The McGroddy Prize for New Materials was given to Iijima and Bethune for their successful synthesis of SWCNTs. Both experimentalists cite theoretical work by Dr. White's NRL research team predicting remarkable properties for these materials (now verified) as partial motivation for their work. The field of nanotubes continues to advance rapidly with efforts worldwide devoted to the study of these materials. These revolutionary wires, identified by the journal Nature as the hottest topic in physics in 2006, have been used to construct transistors, logic circuits, diodes, and sensors. Many of Dr. White's key contributions to carbon nanotube research are reviewed in his 2005 Feature/Cover article in The Journal of Physical Chemistry B. His current research on carbon nanostructures is principally devoted to the transport properties of graphene nanoribbons, a new area of research he helped establish at NRL in 2007, with some of his work on these novel nanostrips featured on the cover of the November 2007 issue of Nano Letters.

Dr. White's research on shock-induced chemistry has been as innovative as his work on carbon nanostructures. His research group was the first to establish that large-scale molecular dynamics simulations employing chemically realistic potentials could be used to directly link discrete atomic-scale chemistry to the continuum theory of condensed-phase detonations. This research laid the foundation for his subsequent collaboration with scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The collaboration has yielded new materials processing criteria for the production of explosives that are expected to be less sensitive to accidental detonation caused, for example, by high velocity shell impact. His work on shock-induced chemistry in materials has been highlighted in Chemical & Engineering News, Science, and the Materials Research Society Bulletin bringing this important Department of Defense research problem (insensitive munitions) to the attention of the wider basic research community. Some of Dr. White and co-workers' ongoing work on shock-induced chemistry is featured on the cover of the book Chemistry at Extreme Conditions.

Dr. White received a BS from Virginia Tech, and a PhD from the University of Virginia. After a National Research Council Associateship with the Electronics Technology Division at the NRL, he joined the NRL Chemistry Division staff. Over his career, Dr. White built the NRL Theoretical Chemistry Section from scratch and rose through the NRL ranks to become the Senior Scientist for Theoretical Chemistry at NRL. He has also spent a year as a Program Director for Condensed Matter Theory at the National Science Foundation (1985), as a Visiting Scientist within the Department of Materials at the University of Oxford (1996), and as tenured full Professor of Physics and Westinghouse Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Washington State University (1999). Because of his research on condensed-phase detonations, he has long been involved with the American Physical Society (APS) Topical Group on the Shock Compression of Condensed Matter recently serving as Co-chair of the 14th APS Conference on Shock Compression Condensed Matter.

His research has been recognized by a number of awards including the Hillebrand Prize (2005), E. O. Hulburt Award (2005), the Edison Chapter Sigma Xi Award for Pure Science (1996), and seven NRL Alan Berman Basic Research Publication Awards. Dr. White's publication list contains over 200 scientific papers with this work being cited over 6,300 times. He also recently co-edited a 1,500 page, two-volume set on shock compression of condensed matter. His professional record contains over 300 scientific presentations, including more than 100 invited talks. In addition to being a member of the American Chemical Society, Dr. White is a fellow of the APS through the Division of Chemical Physics.

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