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Richard P. Feynman

2017 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize

Submissions/nominations were due August 1, 2017
Awards were made at the Atomic Precision For Healthspan And Longevity workshop, held September 16-17, 2017

Foresight Institute Awards Feynman Prizes in Nanotechnology to Giovanni Zocchi and William M. Shih

Foresight Institute, a leading think tank, research, and public interest organization focused on molecular manufacturing and other transformative technologies, announced the winners for the 2017 Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes.These are given in two categories, one for Experiment and the other for Theory in nanotechnology/molecular manufacturing.

“The problems of chemistry and biology can be greatly helped if our ability to see what we are doing, and to do things on an atomic level, is ultimately developed — a development which I think cannot be avoided.”
— Richard P. Feynman, 1959

Established in 1993 and named in honor of pioneer physicist Richard Feynman, these prestigious prizes honor researchers whose recent work has most advanced the achievement of Feynman’s goal for nanotechnology: the construction of atomically-precise products through the use of productive nanosystems.

“The Feynman Prize laureates are both visionary and practical in their work, advancing ideas and applications to light the way for other researchers and to accelerate the promise of molecular manufacturing and improve everyday lives for humankind.&rdquo
—Steve Burgess, Foresight Institute Pres

Prof. Giovanni Zocchi, Head of the Zocchi Lab for Molecular Biophysics at UCLA, received the Theory Prize. The Foresight Institute Feynman Prize for Experimental work was awarded to Prof. William Shih, Head of the Shih Laboratory Biomolecular Nanotechnology Group at Harvard University.

Foresight Institute Feynman Prize - Theory

Giovanni Zocchi, winner of the 2017 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize, Theory category, in his lab

Invention of nano-rheology leading to alternatives to electronic and spin spectroscopies for certain biomolecular assays.

Professor Giovanni Zocchi received the Theory Prize for inventing a method (“nano-rheology”) for measuring stress – strain relations of soft nanoparticles with sub-Angstrom resolution and thereby discovering that enzyme mechanics is viscoelastic. Nano-rheology allows the exploration of conformational changes in enzymes from a materials science perspective. This includes the demonstration of nano-rheology as a biochemical assay. When enzymes bind small molecules, such as substrates or inhibitors, their mechanical susceptibility changes. This effect is easily detected by nano-rheology. The method can measure binding of small ligands, where existing label free methods such as the Biacore instrument fail. Nano-rheology thus emerges as a potential alternative to electronic and spin spectroscopies for certain bio-molecular assays.

Foresight Institute Feynman Prize - Experimental

William M. Shih, winner of the 2017 Foresight Intitute Feynman, Experimental category

Professor William M. Shih was awarded The Experimental Prize. William Shih's contribution to nanotechnology is the total mastery of the design and synthesis of three dimensional DNA nanostructures. His work extended DNA origami from 2D to 3D - a breakthrough in the field. Shih entered DNA nanotechnology with a Nature article demonstrating the folding of a single strand of DNA; it was on the strength of this Nature paper that Shih got his position at Harvard. Thanks in large part to Shih's efforts over the last decade, programmable self-assembly of 3D DNA nanoshapes the size of a virus now is routine. His groundbreaking studies in Nature and Science that generalized DNA origami to solid three-dimensional structures were published in 2009.

Prof. Shih pushed the technique of DNA origami in many new directions that will make it much more practical, from an isothermal folding technique that allows origami to be made at room temperature to showing how DNA origami may be created using double-stranded DNA as the direct source of the long single strand. This latter method is extremely important because, thus far, DNA origami has been limited in size because the most available long scaffold has been the genome of the virus M13. The technique will allow much longer double-stranded DNA to be used and enable the creation of much larger DNA origami.

The 2017 Feynman Prizes and 2017 Distinguished Student Award were awarded at the Atomic Precision For Healthspan And Longevity workshop

Feynman PriZe winner, Student awardee, and Foresight award presenters at Award Banquest, Sept. 16, 2017

The 2017 Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes in two categories, Theory and Experiment, and the 2017 Foresight Institute Distinguished Student Award were presented Sept. 16, 2017, at the awards banquet at the Atomic Precision For Healthspan And Longevity workshop. Left to right: Steve Burgess, Foresight Institute President; Brad Templeton, Foresight Institute Board of Directors member; Prof. William M. Shih, Harvard Medical School, Feynman Prize winner in Experimental category; Prof. Giovanni Zocchi, University of California-Los Angeles, Feynman Prize winner in Theory category; Hai Qian, a PhD student at Dartmouth College, Distinguished Student Award winner; Ravi Pandya, cosponsor of Distinguished Student Award; Allison Duettmann, Foresight Institute.

About Foresight Institute

The Foresight Institute is a leading think tank and public interest organization focused on transformative future technologies. Founded in 1986, its mission is to discover and promote the upsides, and help avoid the drawbacks, of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and similar life-changing developments. For more information visit

See also prweb: "Foresight Institute Awards Feynman Prizes in Nanotechnology to Zocchi & Shih; Distinguished Student Prize to Qian"

2017 Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes for Theoretical and Experimental Molecular Nanotechnology

Two prizes in the amount of $5,000 each will be awarded to the researchers whose recent work has most advanced the achievement of Feynman's goal for nanotechnology: molecular manufacturing, defined as the construction of atomically-precise products through the use of molecular machine systems. Synonyms include "atomically precise manufacturing" (APM) and "productive nanosystems". Separate prizes will be awarded for theoretical work and for experimental work.

The winners of this year's prizes will be announced by October 2017 and invited to accept the prize at an invitational Foresight workshop titled "Atomic Precision for Healthspan & Longevity" to be held in September or October of 2017. For each Prize, a travel stipend of up to US$1500 will be provided for one winner (or one member of a winning team) to attend the Workshop and accept the Prize.

This prize is given in honor of Richard P. Feynman who, in 1959, gave a visionary talk at Caltech in which he said "The problems of chemistry and biology can be greatly helped if our ability to see what we are doing, and to do things on an atomic level, is ultimately developed — a development which I think cannot be avoided."

Relevant Research Areas

Research areas considered relevant to APM (e.g., atomically precise manufacturing, molecular manufacturing, productive nanosystems and molecular machine systems) include but are not limited to:

  • artificial molecular machines
  • atomically-precise construction
  • biomolecular machinery
  • computational chemistry and molecular modeling
  • mechanosynthesis
  • nanomechanical engineering
  • nanomanipulation
  • natural molecular machines
  • scanning probes and nanometrology
  • self-assembly
  • self-replicating machines
  • supramolecular chemistry
  • ultra-precision machining

Special consideration will be given to submissions clearly leading toward the construction of productive nanosystems. Applicants wishing further information on the field of the prize are referred to the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems and the book Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation (Wiley Interscience, 1992).

Selection Committee for the 2017 Prizes

A committee chaired by a previous Feynman Prize recipient will be asked to select this year's honorees.

Nominations and Submissions

Either submit your own work or nominate a colleague who deserves this prize.

Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes Submission or Nomination Instructions.


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