Albuquerque researcher receives national award

March 21, 2000

Honored for chemistry research and management skills

Chemist George Samara of Albuquerque, N.M., will be honored on March 28 by the world's largest scientific society for his skill as a researcher, manager and coordinator. He will receive the Earle B. Barnes Award for Leadership in Chemical Research Management from the American Chemical Society at its 219th national meeting in San Francisco.

In 35 years at Sandia National Laboratories, Samara's career has ranged from fundamental to applied research and from benchwork to coordinating the research of 11 other Department of Energy laboratories.

Samara's early studies focused on electrical and magnetic materials later used by the defense industry in switches, pulse power sources and other components. He established Sandia's photovoltaics program in the mid-1970s to advance solar cell technology.

The semiconductor research Samara directed may have had the greatest impact, however. It yielded materials and techniques that do things silicon cannot - a unique semiconducting laser for fiber-optic communications, for example.

"One thing we're extremely proud of is a class of materials that is revolutionizing the opto-electronics industry worldwide," Samara said. Called strained-layer superlattices, these materials are stacks of atoms-thin layers of various semiconducting compounds. This makes it possible to customize the material for a particular application -- for example, to get a previously unattainable color from a laser -- instead of working around the material's limitations.

"I feel like it's my job as manager to provide my group with an atmosphere of creativity, an environment that allows them to do their best," Samara said.

"Throughout all of George's research management accomplishments, his successes have always been enhanced by his warm interpersonal relations, which reflect his friendly, outgoing, helpful, and hard-working nature," wrote Sandia department director S. Thomas Picraux in nominating him for the award.

Samara said he has "always been a thinker," but credits his parents and teachers with sparking his original interest in chemistry. "My mother and father weren't trained in science but had a very strong appreciation for it," he said.

The Earle B. Barnes Award for Leadership in Chemical Research Management is sponsored by the Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich.
A nonprofit organization with a membership of 161,000 chemists and chemical engineers, the American Chemical Society publishes scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences, and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

American Chemical Society

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