Wayne Jones Jr., provost and vice president for academic affairs, has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). An inorganic chemist and materials scientist, Jones holds eight patents, has published more than 150 journal articles and co-founded two startup companies.
“I’ve always liked taking what I knew in my scientific world and applying it to something ‘real.’”
In his research, much of it conducted during his two-plus decades on the faculty of Binghamton University, Jones uses inorganic molecules and molecular wires to design different types of molecular structures. “At the core of that work is how electrical and thermal energy move through nanostructured molecular materials,” he says.
He describes his patents as wide-ranging. Early patents in thermal interface materials had applications in dissipating heat in cell phone or computer processors, while other patents were for innovations used in advanced solar cell technology and flexible touch screen displays.
In 2015, Jones co-founded ChromaNanoTech, a startup company born over a cup of coffee that married his patented technology with an existing organic dye business looking to retool as the photographic industry, its traditional customer, was shifting its needs. “I said, I wonder if we could use the thermal stability of metal oxide nanoparticles to stabilize these dyes,” Jones recalls. The company’s original application, as a thin film on windows for passive solar technology, remains viable, but metal 3D printing and other applications have emerged as well.
Jones serves on ChromaNanoTech’s board of directors and is the company’s chief scientific advisor, but “the UNH provost’s job is my primary responsibility, so I keep my focus here,” he says.
Also a fellow of the American Chemical Society, Jones has a longstanding passion for translating research from the lab to the world. “I’ve always liked taking what I knew in my scientific world and applying it to something ‘real,’” he says.
The NAI has more than 4,000 members and fellows from more than 250 institutions worldwide. Fellows are chosen based on their demonstration of “a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development and welfare of society.” UNH faculty members Wheeler Ruml (professor of computer science) and Kevin Short (professor of mathematics) are also NAI fellows. Jones will be inducted in a ceremony April 10 at NAI’s annual meeting in Phoenix.