MacDonald Announced as Winner of Inaugural Hill Prize in Physical Sciences

February 5, 2024 • by Staff Writer

Allan MacDonald of The University of Texas at Austin received the award for research with high-impact potential.

A man in glasses is shown next to the words 2023 Hill Prizes Physical Sciences Allan H. MacDonald, Ph.D. (NAS), The University of Texas at Austin

Allan MacDonald, professor and Sid W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chair in Physics, is the recipient of the 2024 Hill Prize in Physical Sciences from the Texas Academy of Medicine, Engineering, Science and Technology (TAMEST). 

Hill Prizes, funded by Lyda Hill Philanthropies, exist to accelerate high-risk, high-reward research ideas with significant potential for real-world impact. The prizes provide seed funding for groundbreaking science and aim to bridge the path from research to business development and further innovations for exceptional researchers in Texas.

MacDonald’s work was recognized for its “potential to create a new energy storage device, the quantum supercapacitor, a new, low-carbon way to store energy.” If successful, the proposed research would create a new energy storage technology with longer lifetime and faster charging speeds. MacDonald and his team will utilize prize funding to advance their ongoing research and probe the performance limits of quantum supercapacitors.

MacDonald’s previous research has helped to illuminate an intriguing phenomenon that occurs when layering a material called graphene at a specific, slight, so-called “magic” angle, that experimentalists later learned allows electrical current to pass unimpeded, apparently without energy loss. MacDonald directs the Center for Complex Quantum Systems and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as a recent winner of the Wolf Prize

Maria Croyle, a professor in the College of Pharmacy and the other winner from UT Austin, received the Hill Prize in Engineering. Three researchers from other institutions and organizations were recognized with Hill Prizes in other categories: Medicine, Biological Sciences and Technology.

All award winners are being recognized this week at the TAMEST 2024 Annual Conference in Austin. Each will receive $500,000 in funding towards their research from Lyda Hill Philanthropies. 

“Our organization is committed to funding game-changing advances in science and nature, and that is exactly what the Hill Prizes’ mission is,” said Lyda Hill, entrepreneur and founder of Lyda Hill Philanthropies. “We hope that the funding awarded to these Texas scientists will help enable them to launch their pivotal research into development and continue to make advancements in scientific innovation.”

This post was adapted from an announcement from TAMEST.