French Physicist Recipient of Holweck Medal and Prize for Nanotechnology Research

French physicist Dr Christian Colliex from Laboratoire de Physique des Solides, Université Paris Sud at Orsay, is the 2009 recipient of the Holweck Medal and Prize for his pioneering use of the electron microscope to further our understanding of the electronic structure of nanomaterials.

His main fields of interest concern the developments of new instrumentation and methodologies for close inspection of matter at macro and microscopic levels (condensed matter). Relying mostly on a technique called electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) in electron microscopy, new instrumentation investigates, down to the atomic level, the structural, chemical, electronic and optical properties of isolated nanostructures and nano-objects, such as nanotubes, nanowires and nanoparticles.

Professor Colliex has played a leading role in the European and international scientific communities and was the driving force behind the successful networking of European electron microscope laboratories through ESTEEM, an EU funded programme which provides infrastructure support for the European community.

He is currently President of the International Federation of Societies of Microscopy and President of the next International Conference on Microscopies, ICM 17, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2010. He has a particular interest in fostering outreach into Latin America

Philip Diamond at the Institute of Physics said, “Christian Colliex is a dynamic and innovative researcher. He has led a group which has been at the forefront of electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) for many years, and has made pioneering contributions to our understanding of the electronic structure of nanostructures.

“The careful precision of his experiments and his understanding of the physical processes involved in electron interactions have enabled him to develop a highly sophisticated understanding of these structures.”

To mark his award, Dr Colliex will be giving a lecture about advances in his field, entitled ‘Unveiling the nanoworld: how far can we measure, learn and shape with a tiny electron beam’, at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge on 27 August.

The Holweck Medal and Prize is awarded jointly by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and the Société Française de Physique (SFP) for distinguished work in physics, as a memorial to Fernand Holweck, Director of the Curie Laboratory of the Radium Institute in Paris, who was tortured and killed by the Gestapo during the occupation of France, 1940-44. It is awarded to a French physicist in odd dated years and a physicist from the UK or Ireland in even dated years.

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