Paul Alivisatos awarded Dan David Prize for nanoscience research

Paul Alivisatos, UC Berkeley’s newly appointed vice chancellor for research and the outgoing director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been awarded the international Dan David Prize for his contributions in the field of nanoscience.

Paul Alivisatos

Paul Alivisatos, outgoing Berkeley Lab director and newly appointed vice chancellor for research at UC Berkeley. Roy Kaltschmidt photo, Berkeley Lab.

The Dan David Foundation, headquartered at Tel Aviv University, awards three prizes annually of $1 million each for outstanding achievements in three time dimensions: past, present and future.

Alivisatos shared the “future” prize with Chad Mirkin of Northwestern University and Sir John Pendry of Imperial College London, all pioneers in nanoscience. Alivisatos is the Samsung Distinguished Chair in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at UC Berkeley, a professor in the departments of materials science and engineering and of chemistry and the director of the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute.

The “past” prize was shared by three social historians, while the “present” prize went to three people who have been active internationally in combating poverty.

The laureates, who donate 10 percent of their prize money toward 20 doctoral and postdoctoral scholarships, will be honored at a ceremony on Sunday, May 22, at Tel Aviv University.

Alivisatos is considered one of the founders of nanoscience, having pioneered the development of the fundamental building blocks of nanotechnology. He and his team first synthesized semiconductor nanocrystals for use as fluorescent probes. His biological quantum dots enabled color-coded identification of multiple cell structures for many biomedical applications. He takes over as UC Berkeley vice chancellor for research on March 1.

Mirkin is a highly recognized chemist who pioneered the development of methods for controlling the architecture of nanomolecules and nanomaterials and utilizing such structures in the development of analytical tools that can be used in areas of chemical and biological sensing, lithography and optics. Pendry has brought about a significant advance in electromagnetism through his concept and designs of a new class of materials, metamaterials, which have led to the manufacturing of lenses that beat the diffraction limit, and cloaks to render objects invisible.

The Dan David Prize is named after the late businessman and philanthropist. For more information about the prize, see the Dan David Prize website.