Paul Alivisatos receives Dan David Prize for contributions to nanoscience

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Paul Alivisatos, who will become the campus’s vice chancellor for research in March after seven years as director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been awarded the international Dan David Prize for his work in the field of nanoscience.

Three prizes of $1 million are given out annually by the Dan David Foundation, headquartered at Tel Aviv University, for outstanding contributions to fields in three distinct time dimensions: past, present and future.

The “past” refers to research that expands knowledge of the past, the “present” recognizes achievements that broaden understanding of the contemporary world and the “future” focuses on breakthroughs showing promise for advancements to come.

Alivisatos, considered “one of the founders of nanoscience,” according to a press release by the foundation, will share the “future” prize of $1 million with two other pioneers in the field — Chad Mirkin of Northwestern University and Sir John Pendry of Imperial College London.

Winners of the prize donate 10 percent of their prize money to graduate students, reinvesting in their fields for future advancements.

Omar Yaghi, a campus chemistry professor and one of Alivisatos’ colleagues at the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute, referred to Alivisatos as a “world authority” in the fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology.

“His intellectual leadership … continues to inspire colleagues across disciplines in science and engineering, and together we are uncovering new ways of putting matter together into complex nanosystems capable of converting energy and molecules in ways only dreamt of in the past,” Yaghi said.

In an email, Alivisatos explained that the value of the study of nanoscience lies in its ability to design new materials and find many future uses for them, particularly in fields such as renewable energy and biomedicine.

Alivisatos’ recognition comes two months after he was awarded a National Medal of Science by the White House.

“The campus is elated,” said campus spokesperson Bob Sanders. “These awards are a reminder that we have some of the world’s top innovators at UC Berkeley, not only in science but in all disciplines.”

Alivisatos expressed appreciation for the campus for its continued support of his work.

“I feel a deep sense of gratitude to Berkeley and the Berkeley Lab,” he said in an email. “Both have offered me so many opportunities.”

Contact Lucas Lochner-Bravo at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @llochner_dc