Germany's largest research institute rewards nano discovery

August 12, 2004

Brussels, 11 Aug 2004

The Helmholtz Association of National Research Centres in Germany has awarded its prestigious Erwin Schrödinger Prize for interdisciplinary research to a team of physicists and chemists who have developed a groundbreaking method to separate tiny carbon tubes in the field of nanotechnology.

The annual prize will go to the team from the Institute of Nanotechnology at the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe in recognition of: 'its excellent interdisciplinary achievements in the fields of nanotechnology.' The award, worth 50,000 euro, will be presented to Frank Hennrich, Ralph Krupke, Marcel Mayor, and Heiko Weber, during the Helmholtz general assembly in December.

'The prize-winners this year have succeeded in a unique way in working together across disciplines and in combining the fields of chemistry and physics within an innovative research area,' explained Professor Karin Mölling, chair of the Erwin Schrödinger prize jury.

'Where components in physics are becoming smaller and smaller and molecules in chemistry are becoming bigger and bigger, physics and chemistry meet,' added Professor Mölling, who is a physicist and head of the Institute of Medicinal Virology at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. 'Nanotechnology is situated at this interface: here circuits are built on a molecular scale. It can't get any smaller!'

The winning team had already achieved worldwide fame in its field thanks to another innovative endeavour. Before the separation of the carbon tubes, the Karlsruhe team had 'succeeded in measuring the electric current through individual organic molecules' explained the Helmholtz Association in a statement.

'The Karlsruhe team has solved two fundamental problems, which impact the entire domain of nanotechnology. Their work will give rise to a new form of nanoelectronics in the future, in which tiny circuits measuring millionths of a millimetre could be built. This kind of electronics on a very small scale is predicted to play an important part in computer and satellite technology and medical engineering. It would make it possible to build tiny chips and so to decisively improve computing performance on this miniature scale. The carbon tubes of the Karlsruhe researchers could then function as 'wires', and the organic molecules serve as a storage medium,' the association concluded. To read more about the prize and the Helmholtz Association, please visit the following website: http:///

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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