Dr. Phaedon Avouris of IBM and Professor Tony Heinz of Columbia University
were presented with the 2008 Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics on 27
September 2008 during a day-long forum at Harvard University, attended by luminaries
of the field. The Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics recognizes researchers
who have made an outstanding and innovative contribution to the field of applied
physics. The forum was sponsored by the scientific publisher Springer.
Avouris and Heinz were honored for their pioneering work on the electrical
and optical properties of nanoscale carbon materials. Carbon nanotubes, first
reported in 1991, and graphene, which was even more recently discovered in 2004,
have attracted a vibrant community of researchers intent on characterizing these
Carbon nanotubes and graphene show promise for a number of applications. One
of the most exciting possibilities is that these materials could integrate electronics
and optics, which could allow light to replace electricity in computers. This
would allow faster calculations (since light moves far faster than electrons)
and would eradicate some of today’s problems with electronics, including
Heinz said, "This new set of materials is completely different from the
materials that form the basis for today's computers and communications technologies.
This is a very exciting time to explore the fundamental properties of these
materials." His co-winner agreed: "We are looking at electronics after
silicon,” said Avouris. “Wouldn't it be nice to unify electronics
and optics with a single material?"
Heinz continued, “It is extremely important that ideas in one subfield
enhance other fields. That's encouraged by having a broad set of talks, like
we had here today at the forum.”
Other potential applications include photovoltaics, sensors and light emitters,
and uses in medicine. The current, work, however, is science research. Specific
applications are difficult to foresee at this stage.
Avouris added, “The main motivator for research is always curiosity.”
Phaedon Avouris is an IBM Fellow and manager of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
at IBM's Research Division at the Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights,
Tony Heinz is the David M. Rickey Professor in the Departments of Physics and
Electrical Engineering at Columbia University. Previously, he also worked at
IBM's Research Division at the Watson Research Center.
The Springer Forum
For the past 10 years, the Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics has been
awarded by the editors-in-chief of the Springer journals Applied Physics A-Materials
Science & Processing (Dr. Michael Stuke, MPI Goettingen) and Applied Physics
B-Lasers and Optics (Dr. Frank Traeger, University of Kassel). The winners receive
the prize and checks totaling $5000.
This year the prize was awarded during the first Julius Springer Forum on Applied
Physics at Harvard University, at which leading scientists in the field of applied
physics were brought together for a day of talks and poster presentations. The
Springer Forum was organized by the editors-in-chief of Applied Physics A and
Applied Physics B.
In addition to the prize winners of the Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics,
speakers included Nobel Laureate Wolfgang Ketterle of MIT and Stefan Hell of
the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. The invited presentations
at the Springer Forum, by distinguished researchers from both industry and academia
in fields ranging from atomic physics, condensed matter physics and nanotechnology
to chemistry and biotechnology, allowed ideas to cross-percolate.