University of Colorado Physics professor Ivan Smalyukh, right, works with graduate student Angel Martinez in his laboratory where he uses lasers to trap
University of Colorado Physics professor Ivan Smalyukh, right, works with graduate student Angel Martinez in his laboratory where he uses lasers to trap and manipulate liquid crystals. (Glenn J. Asakawa / University of Colorado)

University of Colorado assistant professor of physics Ivan Smalyukh has been named as one of 61 scientists to receive a 2013 Early Career Award from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Smalyukh, a founding fellow of the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute, has been awarded $750,000 over five years. RASEI is a joint venture between CU and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Smalyukh will use the award to study the self-assembly of nano-sized particles into colloidal composites, work that may enable cheaper and more efficient renewable energy technologies as well as more energy-efficient displays on consumer devices such as laptops and smart phones.

The DOE's Early Career Research Program is in its fourth year. This year's award winners were selected from a pool of about 770 applicants.

Smalyukh has been honored with two other early career awards. 

He was selected in 2009 for the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development award, the agency's most prestigious award to junior faculty members. In 2010, Smalyukh was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.