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October 26, 2005: Foresight Nanotech Institute Awards Feynman Prizes

Researchers, Journalist, Government Official and Student Honored at Advanced Nanotechnology Conference

Menlo Park, CA – October 26, 2005 – Foresight Nanotech Institute, the leading think tank and public interest organization focused on nanotechnology, awarded prizes to leaders in research, communication, government and study in the field of nanotechnology at the 13th Foresight Conference Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology: Focusing on the Cutting Edge. Over 100 influential scientists, researchers and nanotechnology professionals gathered to honor the recipients of these prestigious awards at the Foresight Institute Feynman Prize Awards Banquet on October 26, 2005.

The 2005 Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes, named in honor of pioneer physicist Richard Feynman, were presented to Drs. Christian Schafmeister and Christian Joachim. The Foresight Prize in Communication was presented to nanotechnology website editor Rocky Rawstern. Congressman Mike Honda (D-California) was presented with the inaugural award of the Foresight Government Prize. Graduate student Christopher Levins received the Foresight Distinguished Student Award.

“The Foresight Nanotech Institute awards are the premier prizes in nanotechnology. In alignment with our mission, we recognize researchers, students, journalists and governmental officials who work to advance beneficial nanotechnology,” said Scott Mize, President of Foresight Nanotech Institute. “Each of our prizes is given to those whose recent efforts have done the most to move us forward toward that goal.”

Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes – Experimental and Theory

The Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes are given in two categories, one for experimental work and the other for theory in advances in nanotechnology.

Dr. Christian Joachim, Center Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique, France, received the Theory prize for developing theoretical tools and establishing the principles for design of a wide variety of single molecular functional nanomachines. Through an extensive combination of theoretical and experimental work, Dr. Joachim has developed single molecule devices that range from molecular wires to switches to logic gates to wheelbarrows.

A key element in Dr. Joachim’s work has been his introduction of elastic scattering quantum chemistry (ESQC) theory to explain tunneling junctions between metal electrodes and molecules, now a standard for STM image calculations. Dr. Joachim previously shared the 1997 Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology for Experimental Work for his contribution to pioneering work using scanning probe microscopes to manipulate molecules. The 2005 Prize recognizes his uniquely broad and deep visionary contributions to understanding molecular properties and predicting the behavior of designed single molecule devices.

The Foresight Institute Feynman Prize for experimental work was awarded to Dr. Christian Schafmeister, University of Pittsburgh, for his work in developing a novel technology synthesizing macromolecules of intermediate sizes (between 1000 and 10,000 Daltons) with designed shapes and functions. The technology is derived from solid phase peptide synthesis, but with the crucial difference that adjacent monomers are connected through pairs of bonds, rather than through single peptide bonds, thus forming rigid, spiro-ladder oligomers instead of floppy peptide chains capable of assuming numerous shapes.

As part of this work Dr. Schafmeister developed computer-aided design software to permit designing oligomers with desired shapes. These oligomers can be assembled using automated equipment, chemically modified to add desired chemical functions and to achieve desired solubility, and obtained in high purity. Because the oligomers are large enough to have interesting functions and rigid, designed shapes, they hold great promise as nanoscale parts for future atomically precise nanoscale machines.

Foresight Institute Prize in Communication

The Foresight Institute Prize in Communication was awarded to Rocky Rawstern, nanotechnology editor of the widely read website, Nanotechnology Now. Rawstern provides a digital forum where accurate information about the transformative aspects of science, technology and engineering is available. Through this website, he has educated the public about the long-term benefits and concerns about nanotechnology.

Foresight Institute Government Prize

Congressman Mike Honda (D-California) was the inaugural honoree of the Foresight Institute Government Prize. He was one of the key legislators that initiated the Nanotechnology Research and Development Act signed by President Bush in 2003. He is also the driver of the Nanomanufacturing Investment Act (HR1491) which is designed to create a public-private partnership to bridge the funding gap, also known as the “valley of death”, that exists between nanotechnology research which occurs in laboratories and the stage where financial investors are willing to fund new ventures based on that technology.

Foresight Institute Distinguished Student Award

Christopher Levins, a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, received the Foresight Distinguished Student Award. Levins is working to develop a systematic methodology for the design and synthesis of rigid macromolecular scaffolds capable of displaying chemical functionality in three-dimensional space. Such scaffolds are one approach to the construction of complex nanoscale devices. Levins synthesized critical molecular subunits that could be coupled together to form the scaffold elements. These subunits are similar to amino acids, but capable of forming two peptide bonds between adjacent subunits, thus eliminating rotational floppiness in the scaffold backbone. These subunits have been joined together to form either molecular rods or curved shapes, suggesting that the physical properties of the scaffolds can be controlled in a predictable way based upon the stereochemistry of the subunits included in a sequence.

About Foresight Nanotech Institute

Foresight Nanotech Institute is the leading think tank and public interest organization focused on nanotechnology. Founded in 1986, our mission is to ensure the beneficial implementation of nanotechnology. Focusing on the six Foresight Nanotechnology Challenges, Foresight provides balanced, accurate and timely information to help society understand nanotechnology through publications, guidelines, public policy activities, roadmaps, prizes, tutorials, conferences, discussion forums and networking events. For more information about Foresight Nanotech Institute:

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