Sujit Datta has received the 2020 Unilever Award from the American Chemical Society, recognizing his work on a class of materials that includes fluids, gels and biomaterials to address problems in energy, the environment and biotechnology.
Datta, an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, designs lab experiments that closely mimic real-world conditions found underground and inside the body, where many different kinds of soft and porous materials interact. Through fundamental insights into soft-matter physics and complex spaces, Datta has touched on a wide range of application areas, from cleaning up polluted aquifers to illuminating the structure of the gut.
The ACS Unilever Award for Outstanding Young Investigator in Colloid and Surfactant Science honors researchers who have made an original and creative impact within seven years of receiving the Ph.D. Colloidal dispersions are mixtures, such as blood and milk, where one material is suspended but not dissolved in another. Surfactants are materials, such as detergent, that reduce water's surface tension and help it penetrate other materials. Knowledge in these basic material categories cuts across physics, chemistry, biology and engineering and reaches into nearly every aspect of modern life.
Datta joined the Princeton faculty in 2017 after a postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology. In addition to his primary appointment, he is an associated faculty member in the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, the Princeton Environmental Institute and the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials. He is the winner of a 2019 NSF CAREER Award and a 2018 New Investigator Award from the ACS Petroleum Research Fund.