The Körber Prize is awarded annually by the Körber Foundation in Hamburg. This €750,000 prize honours exceptional and innovative research projects that have great application potential. This year it was awarded to the British chemist and materials scientist Nicola Spaldin, also Professor for Material Theory at ETH Zurich.
Professor Spaldin was recognised after creating a new family of crystalline compounds that could lead to a radical change in the world of technology and computers. These compounds, called multiferroics, can respond both to electric and magnetic fields. By applying electric fields, the magnetic structure is influenced. This means that multiferroics will revolutionize our actual computers, turning them into ultra-fast, smaller and highly efficient devices (for example, they could replace the silicon in the chips that controls the computing capability of PCs and smart phones). But this discovery doesn’t concern only the world of computers: it can be applied also to tiny, nanometrical motors and high-precision magnetic sensors or to superconductors that function at room temperature.
Nicola Spaldin, who will use the prize to move forward her research and studies, also has an extremely positive attitude towards the future: she has shown that structural transformations in multiferroic crystals can furnish model systems to study the early development stages of the universe.
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