Awardee: Prof. Massimo Inguscio

University of Florence
Head of the "Materials and Devices" Dept. (CNR)
LENS (European Laboratory for Non-Linear Spectroscopy)


For the results he has obtained in the last decade in the field of Bose-Einstein condensates. Particularly remarkable are:

i) the production of condensates with mixtures of Fermions and Bosons 40K - 41K and 40K – 87Rb;
ii) the creation of a Josephson junction array with a 87Rb Bose-Einstein condensate;
iii) the first experimental realization of an atom interferometer with fermions, “Bloch oscillator” with a trapped degenerate gas which combined high sensitivity with high spatial resolution, a device that promises new breakthroughs in the study of Casimir forces or exotic gravitational physics; and,
iv) the study of Anderson localization for non interacting particles in a random potential in the case of the Bose-Einstein condensate of 39K.
Awardee: Dr. Alex Zunger

National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Boulder (Colorado), USA


For his fundamental contributions to the development of the Quantum Theory of Real Solids by developing: in 1977 the first.principles atomic pseudopotentials for the Density-Functional Theory introduced by Walter Kohn, in 1978 the Total-Energy method, in 1981, with John Perdew, the Local-Density-Approximation exchange-correlation functional, and in 1983, the method of simultaneous relaxation of atomic positions and charge densities in self.consistent LDA calculations. These foundational methods have enabled the transformation of the quantum equation describing the electronic structure of solids into a tractable form and offered a quantitative understanding of real solids. In the last decade, Alex Zunger has introduced the “Inverse Band Structure” concept, an innovative and revolutionary approach to materials research combining the First-Principles Quantum Theory of Real Solids with biologically inspired phase-space search methods. This approach allows to search for atomic configurations that have a desired target property and thus ushers in a new era of material science. For all these contributions Alex Zunger is one of the reference figures in theoretical physics of the last decades.