The winner of the 2012 Feynman Prize for Experiment is the team of Gerhard Meyer, Leo Gross, and Jascha Repp for their work at IBM Research in Zurich (Dr. Repp is now at Regensburg University).
The award recognizes their remarkable experiments advancing the frontiers of scanning probe microscopy. They were the first to to produce images of molecular orbitals and charges detailed enough to identify the structure of individual molecules, as well as metal-molecule complexes. They have also been able to precisely make and break individual chemical bonds. These developments provide crucial insights and tools for the design of future molecular systems.
The winner of the 2012 Feynman Prize for Theory is David Soloveichik of University of California, San Francisco, for his general theory of DNA displacement cascades. He has shown that systems of DNA molecules can be designed with arbitrary dynamic behavior. In particular, he has shown that they are Turing-complete, and so can be made to run any general-purpose computer program. This opens the door for their use as powerful control circuity for DNA-based nanotechnology, and has motivated exciting theoretical and experimental work in laboratories worldwide.
The awards will be presented at the 2013 Foresight Technical Conference: Illuminating Atomic Precision to be held January 11-13 in Palo Alto, CA, where the winners will give lectures on their groundbreaking work to leading scientists in the field of nanotechnology. For conference information and registration please see http://www.foresight.org/conference/
In awarding the prizes, Ralph C. Merkle, Chairman of the Prize Committee, noted that "The work of these Feynman Prize winners has brought us one step closer to answering Feynman's 1959 question, 'What would happen if we could arrange atoms one by one the way we want them?' And the ability to simulate and manipulate atoms advanced by the work of these Prize winners will enable us to design and build engineered molecular machinery with atomic precision. It will take us another step on the way to the development of revolutionary nanotechnologies that will transform our lives for the better."
The annual Feynman Prizes recognize significant advancements on the road to the award of the $250,000 Feynman Grand Prize, an incentive prize that will be awarded to the first researchers to make a nanometer-scale robotic arm and a nanometer-scale computing device, two critical components of an atomic scale molecular manufacturing system.
The Foresight Feynman Prizes were established by the Foresight Institute in 1993 and named in honor of Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman whose influential essay, "Plenty of Room at the Bottom" inspired the first work on nanoscale science. The Institute awards Feynman prizes each year to recognize researchers - one for theoretical work and one for empirical research - whose recent work has most advanced the field toward the achievement of Feynman's vision for nanotechnology: molecular manufacturing, the construction of atomically-precise products through the use of molecular machine systems.