UH Physicist launches new journal for materials science

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Credit: University of Houston

Zhifeng Ren, a University of Houston physicist and a principal investigator with the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH, has launched a new academic journal, "Materials Today Physics," which will focus on new and emerging materials.

The journal, to be published by Elsevier, was announced this week at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society in New Orleans. It will initially focus primarily on thermoelectric and photovoltaic materials, although Ren said he expects it to quickly evolve to encompass other emerging materials.

Ren, who is MD Anderson Chair Professor of Physics at UH, will serve as the editor-in-chief.

The journal, to be published under Elsevier's "Materials Today" umbrella, is expected to become the flagship high-impact journal for both materials science and physics, Ren said. It is accepting manuscripts for peer review now, and Ren said papers will be reviewed within three weeks and published online after they are accepted. The first print edition of the journal is expected this summer.

Paul Chu, founding director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity, will serve on the editorial board, along with scientists from around the world. He said there is a clear need for a high-quality journal for the rapidly evolving multidisciplinary field of materials science and physics.

"Materials Today Physics will speed the dissemination of crucial information about materials from their discovery to synthesis, from characterization to understanding, and ultimately to application," Chu said. "Ren is well qualified to be the editor-in-chief, based on his 30 years of experience in discovering exciting materials and their physics, in materials such as superconductors, carbon nanotubes, semiconducting nanowires, thermoelectrics, flexible transparent conductors and efficient catalysts."

Ramanan Krishnamoorti, interim vice president for research and technology transfer at UH, said the journal is a good fit for Ren and the University, which has a strong research focus on materials science.

"Dr. Ren is known internationally for his work with thermoelectric and other energy-related materials," Krishnamoorti said. "His work has been published in high-impact journals for more than two decades, and I look forward to seeing this new journal evolve to reflect the growing global interest in the physics of emerging materials that will define the cutting-edge of science and technology development over a broad cross-section of applications."

Ren, who was recruited to UH from Boston College in 2013, received the Edith and Peter O'Donnell Award in Science from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas in 2014.

Thermoelectric materials produce electricity as energy moves from a warmer area to a cooler one – capturing the waste heat from an industrial smokestack, for example, would allow the generation of electricity using a thermoelectric material. The field is growing at a significant pace, but there has been no academic journal that focuses largely on thermoelectrics, and Ren said important papers are published in a wide array of journals. He predicts that "Materials Today Physics" will publish some of the most important findings in thermoelectrics, along with other fields.

Several papers already have been submitted, and Ren said he expects to publish between 200 and 300 papers a year. For more information, see journals.elsevier.com/materials-today-physics.

"In the beginning, we want to put an emphasis on thermoelectrics and any emerging topics that come up," he said. That will include photovoltaic materials, superconductors, topological insulators, efficient catalysts, flexible transparent conductors and emerging materials for use under extreme conditions.

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