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Nano Pioneers Awarded $1M

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OSLO, Norway, May 28, 2008 -- Scientists from the US and Japan who discovered quantum dots and carbon nanotubes, respectively, are among seven inaugural recipients of $1 million Kavli prizes, biannual awards for outstanding research in nanoscience, neuroscience and astrophysics.

The laureates were announced today at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters by Ole Didrik Lærum, academy president, and transmitted from Oslo via a live simulcast to Columbia University in New York, where it was part of the opening of the first annual World Science Festival. Two Columbia professors were named as Kavli recipients.

Brus&Iijima.jpgThe Kavli prizes, named after and funded by physicist and philanthropist Fred Kavli through his Kavli Foundation, were awarded by the academy in partnership with the foundation and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. 

The winners were selected for their groundbreaking research that has significantly advanced understanding of the unusual properties of matter on an ultrasmall scale (nanoscience), the basic circuitry of the human brain (neuroscience) and the nature of quasars (astrophysics). The academy said the three biannual awards will complement the Nobel Prizes, which since 1901 have been awarded for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace.

Sharing the $1 million nanoscience prize are Louis E. Brus, chemistry professor at Columbia, and Sumio Iijima of Meijo University in Japan for their respective discoveries of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals, also known as quantum dots, and carbon nanotubes.

"Major advances being predicted in fields as diverse as electronics, the environment, energy and biomedicine would not have been possible without Brus and Iijima’s contributions in explaining the unusual properties of particles so small that electron motion is confined to zero or one dimension," the academy said in announcing the award.

Brus created the interdisciplinary field of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals through original discovery, theoretical modeling, chemical synthesis of purified samples, and by studying the spectroscopy of individual nanocrystals, the academy said. Quantum dots are generating interest among researchers for use as drug delivery agents for targeting, imaging and treating tumor cells; as detectors of cancer biomarkers in blood and tissue samples; as a way to boost efficiency and lower the cost of photovoltaic cells used in solar panels; and in displays, because they emit light in very specific spectral distributions and can more accurately render colors perceived by the human eye.

Iijima discovered needle-like carbon nanotubes -- ultrathin, ultrasmall graphene tubes resembling rolls of chicken wire -- and promoted their interesting mechanical, electrical and thermal properties. Because they are much stronger than steel yet weigh one-sixth less, they are used to reenforce the strength of composite materials ranging from clothing and sports gear to construction materials like cement. Depending on their atomic structure, they can have semiconducting or metallic properties and have potential use as electronic components such as diodes and transistors, electrodes for supercapacitors, field emitters for displays and sensor applications.

The $1 million astrophysics prize was awarded jointly to Maarten Schmidt of the California Institute of Technology and Donald Lynden-Bell of Cambridge University in the UK. During the 1960s Schmidt analysed the visible light spectra of quasars and used the results to explain just how distant these extraordinarily bright galaxies are, while Lynden-Bell demonstrated how they were powered by the collapse of material into massive black holes.

The neuroscience prize goes to three scientists who collectively have deciphered the basic mechanisms which govern the development and functioning of the networks of cells in the brain and spinal cord: Pasko Rakic of the Yale University School of Medicine, Thomas Jessell of Columbia and Sten Grillner of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

Norway native Kavli moved to the US in 1956 and founded Kavlico Corp. in Moorpark, Calif., which became one of the world's largest suppliers of sensors for aeronautic, automotive, and industrial applications. Kavli sold the company in 2000 and established the foundation in Oxnard, Calif.

Kavli has also endowed two chairs in engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara -- the Fred Kavli Chair in MEMS Technology and the Chair in Optoelectronics and Sensors. Through the foundation, he has also endowed chairs in Earth systems sciences at the University of California, Irvine, in nanosystems sciences at UCLA, and cosmology at the California Institute of Technology.

The prizes will be presented by Crown Prince Haakon at a ceremony in the Oslo Concert Hall Sept. 9.

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May 2008
A two-electrode device with an anode and a cathode that passes current in only one direction. It may be designed as an electron tube or as a semiconductor device.
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
1. A generic term for detector. 2. A complete optical/mechanical/electronic system that contains some form of radiation detector.
An electronic device consisting of a semiconductor material, generally germanium or silicon, and used for rectification, amplification and switching. Its mode of operation utilizes transmission across the junction of the donor electrons and holes.
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