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Alivisatos, Bawendi Among Lawrence Award Winners

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WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 12, 2007 -- Material scientists Paul Alivisatos and Moungi Bawendi are among eight winners of the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award, Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman has announced.

The award honors scientists and engineers at mid-career for exceptional contributions in research and development that support the Department of Energy and its mission to advance the national, economic and energy security of the United States. The award consists of a gold medal, a citation and an honorarium of $50,000.

Alivisatos, a professor of nanotechnology at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Materials Sciences Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Bawendi, a chemistry professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, were awarded jointly in the materials research category (and will share their honorarium), “or chemical synthesis and characterization of functional semiconducting nanocrystals, also known as quantum dots,” the DOE said in a press release.

Alivisatos, who pioneered the creation of nanometer-size crystals that exhibit unique properties not seen in larger crystals, has demonstrated that advanced properties of solid-state electronic materials can be duplicated in colloidal nanocrystals produced by simple and accessible synthetic chemistry approaches. His work culminated in a seminal paper in the development of the field of nanocrystals. Nanocrystals are now being used as tracers because, depending on size, they emit light of different colors. Alivisatos has extended these crystals into rods and other shapes which, in aggregate, have become the basis for a novel type of solar cell that is flexible and inexpensive. He has also helped launch several successful nanotech startup companies and mentored a growing body of young scientists in the nanotechnology field.

Bawendi, a materials chemist, developed a synthesis of semiconductor nanocrystals that was the first to enable precise control of their size and precise determination of their properties. Using the Bawendi synthesis, nanocrystals are now routinely made to order. One of the world’s leaders in nanotechnology, his research focuses on the synthesis, electronic properties and optical properties of semiconductor nanocrystals (quantum dots) for applications as diverse as biology, optoelectronics and nanoelectronics.

The other winners are Malcolm J. Andrews, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M., in the national security category; Arup K. Chakraborty, MIT, for life sciences; My Hang V. Huynh, Los Alamos National Laboratory, for chemistry category; Marc Kamionkowski, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif., for physics; John Zachara, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash., for environmental science and technology; and Steven Zinkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn., for nuclear technology.

Malcolm Andrews, a mechanical engineer and mathematician, is a world-renowned expert on Rayleigh-Taylor mixing and unstable or turbulent fluid flow processes that are critical to the quality of predictions of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile reliability and thus to the nation’s security. He has developed a world-class laboratory at Texas A&M University for buoyancy-driven mixing research and is one of the leading individuals in obtaining closure between theory, computation and experiment in this field.

Arup K. Chakraborty, a chemical engineer, has applied statistical mechanical methods to shed light on the molecular mechanisms that regulate the activation of T lymphocytes that orchestrate the immune response. His ground-breaking theoretical work has had widespread impact on experimental cellular and molecular immunology.

My Hang V. Huynh, a chemist, is the pioneer for the groundbreaking discovery of green primary explosives to replace mercury and lead primary explosives have caused detrimental effects on the environment and humans for nearly 400 years. Her interdisciplinary research has led to the formation of a new series of high-nitrogen transition metal complexes that are precursors for preparing metallic nanofoams. She also designs and synthesizes a unique class of organic polyazido compounds containing no carbon-carbon bonds that transcend the carbon-carbon paradigm. These organic compounds are the ideal feedstocks for carbon-based and carbon-nitride-based ultrapure nanomaterials, DOE said.

Marc Kamionkowski, a theoretical physicist and astrophysicist, has described how precise observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation can lead to deeper understanding of the origin and evolution of the universe. Kamionkowski and his collaborators have inspired a new generation of experiments that have begun the search for the signature of the cosmic gravitational-wave background.

John Zachara, an environmental geochemist, has made seminal scientific contributions to understanding geochemical and microbiologic factors that are critical to the fate and transport of metals and radionuclides in the environment. His studies of how toxic metals travel in the subsurface environment of the DOE Hanford site (Washington State) are helping provide science-based environmental cleanup solutions with broad applications.

Steven Zinkle, a materials scientist, is an expert on the effects of radiation on the properties of materials and has applied this understanding to help establish performance limits of materials in radiation environments. His work has focused on irradiation damage to materials required for nuclear fission and fusion reactors and for space reactor technologies.

“These brilliant scientists and their varied and important research inspire us,” Secretary Bodman said. “Their work reminds us of the importance of continued investment in science and the need for increased emphasis on basic research and math and science education programs."

The Lawrence Award was established in 1959 to honor the memory of Ernest Orlando Lawrence, a UC Berkeley physicist and Nobel Laureate who invented the cyclotron, or particle accelerator, and after whom two major DOE laboratories at UC Berkeley and in Livermore, Calif., are named.

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Feb 2007
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