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September 27, 2006: Foresight Nanotech Institute Awards Feynman Prizes

Researchers, Author, and Student Honored by Nanotechnology Think Tank

Palo Alto, CA – September 27, 2006 - Foresight Nanotech Institute, the leading think tank and public interest organization focused on nanotechnology, awarded prizes to leaders in research, communication and study in the field of nanotechnology at nanoTX ’06 today. These prizes are conferred on individuals whose work in research, communication and study are moving our society towards the ultimate goal of atomically-precise manufacturing.

The 2006 Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes, named in honor of pioneer physicist Richard Feynman, are given in two categories, one for experimental work and the other for theory in advances in nanotechnology. This year’s winning research team, Drs. Erik Winfree and Paul W.K. Rothemund of Caltech, received the prizes in both categories. This is the first time the same research team has received both Foresight Institute Feynman prizes.

The Foresight Prize in Communication was presented to nanotechnology author and computer scientist J. Storrs Hall. A Georgia Institute of Technology graduate student, Berhane Temelso, received the Foresight Distinguished Student Award.

“For the first time ever, the same research team is being honored with the Feynman prizes in both categories, theory and experiment,” said Jillian Elliott, President of Foresight Nanotech Institute. “This is an exciting example of how nanotechnology theory and experiment are meeting in research institutions. Discoveries that were considered ‘theory’ years ago are becoming a reality through experiment.”

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.

Drs. Erik Winfree and Paul W.K. Rothemund from Caltech received the Foresight Feynman Prize in Theory for their "Theory in Molecular Computation and Algorithmic Self-assembly” research. Winfree is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Computation & Neural Systems, and Rothemund is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Physics of Information. Their research findings are based on their demonstration of methods for universal computation with DNA, including using DNA tiles to simulate cellular automata. Their work with DNA tiles has led to the field of "Algorithmic Self-assembly", in which computations are embedded in the process of crystal growth. Their work with DNA tiles combines computer science and atomically-precise construction. Algorithmic self-assembly could be a step towards the construction of atomically-precise products through the use of molecular machine systems.

Drs. Erik Winfree and Paul W.K. Rothemund, also received the Foresight Feynman Prize in Experiment, for their work demonstrating that DNA tiles can be designed to form crystalline nanotubes that exhibit a stiffness greater than the biological protein nanofilament actin. They also established that algorithmic self-assembly could work well enough to generate non-trivial non-periodic patterns. The work Winfree and Rothemund have pioneered leads directly to the production of ever more complicated two-dimensional arrays of nanostructures, an ability on the pathway to "the construction of atomically-precise products through the use of molecular machine systems."

Foresight Institute Prize in Communication

The Foresight Institute Prize in Communication was awarded to Dr. John Storrs Hall, an independent researcher and author, for his recently published book "Nanofuture: What's Next For Nanotechnology." Hall has a PhD in computer science and has been exploring molecular manufacturing concepts since the 1980s. His book clearly explains the impact of molecular nanotechnology in a reader-friendly fashion. He presents vivid descriptions of what everyday life could be like in a future with molecular nanotechnology. Hall also founded and for many years moderated the sci.nanotech newsgroup, the first online discussion of nanotechnology. This prize was established in 2000 and is generously supported by the law firm Millstein & Taylor, PC.

Foresight Institute Distinguished Student Award

Berhane Temelso, a graduate student in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology, was awarded the Foresight Institute Distinguished Student Award for his work on "High-Level ab Initio Studies of Hydrogen Abstraction in Prototype Mechanosynthesis Systems." Temelso conducted all of the research and a majority of the writing of an article which systematically examines hydrogen abstraction reactions of interest to mechanosynthesis using very accurate, state-of-the-art quantum mechanical models. This is an important theoretical contribution to proposals for the mechanosynthesis of diamond using scanning probe microscopy, which could provide a path to productive nanosystems. This prize is generously supported by Dr. James Ellenbogen, Ravi Pandya, and James Von Ehr, III.

About Foresight Nanotech Institute

Foresight Nanotech Institute is the leading public interest organization in nanotechnology. Foresight was founded in 1986 to promote and accelerate the development of nanotechnology that is good for people and the planet through public education, research prizes, public policy advocacy and programs promoting beneficial nanotechnology. Scientists, academics, engineers, business, governments and the public turn to Foresight for balanced, accurate, and timely information provided through its publications, public policy activities, roadmaps, prizes, and conferences.


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