Kim Dunbar has had an impact on many industries with her research. She focuses on the relationship between materials in organic and inorganic chemistry. This field of research is known as coordination chemistry. It focuses on the structure, bonding, and properties of relationships between molecular materials. She is particularly interested in spintronics and molecular magnetism.
Spintronics and Molecular Magnetism
Spintronics has been around for decades, but current research is changing computing. Spintronics is a subdivision of physics, which focuses on manipulating the spin and flow of electrons. Essentially, this technology has functioned in a two dimensional way. Thanks to researchers like Kim Dunbar, this is changing. Spintronics uses both the electrical charge and the magnetism of electrons. Traditionally, magnets go north or south.
Combining spintronics and molecular magnetism allows individual magnetic molecules to be used. This allows for three-dimensional spintronics. According to Kim Dunbar, this method is ideal for quantum computing. It is believed that research in this area will lead to higher performing information storage and retrieval, as well as faster and less expensive production methods.
Instead of simply aligning north and south, molecular magnetism allows for spins to be entangled which gives rise to many more states than the usual binary “1” and “0” states.
Kim Dunbar says spintronics and molecular magnetism are also leading to advances in the medical field. Hearing aids using this technology can determine when the wearer is using their cell phone, and switch processes to compensate. They are also smaller and better able to withstand vibration. There’s current research into using this technology to create microchips that can detect cancer and other diseases. They can also provide advancements for devices like pacemakers.
Kim Dunbar Research
Kim Dunbar and her team have made some innovative discoveries. These include single-molecule magnets, spin transitions caused by charge transfer, high-temperature spin crossover, and magnetic photo-induced magnetic behavior. Photoinduced magnetic behavior is now being used to research photodynamic therapy drugs, which Kim Dunbar hopes to use to treat many conditions, including cancer.
Kim Dunbar was born in Pennsylvania. She grew up with three sisters. Education was very important to her family. She received her PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from Purdue University, and went on to conduct her Postdoctoral studies at Texas A&M University.
She is the first woman at Texas A&M University to be named a Chaired Professor in Science. She’s the second woman to receive the Distinguished Service Award for the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry, which is awarded to top researchers in the field of inorganic chemistry. She is a prolific author as well as a researcher, with over 420 publications.