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2002 Foresight Institute Distinguished Student Award

for the college undergraduate or graduate student
whose work in nanotechnology is deemed most notable

Nominations were due by September 10, 2002

2002 Winner Announced

The Foresight Distinguished Student Award was won by Yi Cui of Harvard University. In making the award on Saturday night, Oct. 12, 2002, Neil Jacobstein, Chairman of the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing, made these comments:

Every year Foresight and the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing present awards to the Molecular Nanotechnology community, both to recognize excellence in the field and to provide incentives for work leading to atomically precise, positional assembly of atoms and molecules. Given the controversy in the Molecular Nanotechnology field about what is feasible and what is not, the Distinguished Student Award takes on new significance. All humans are students for life – we are learning machines from a very early age, and hopefully, we keep learning throughout our lifetimes. But graduate study provides a unique and fertile ground for reexamining long held assumptions; developing a healthy disregard for orthodoxy, and for imagining unprecedented technical possibilities. The sponsors of the Distinguished Student Award, James Ellenbogen, Ravi Pandya, and Jim Von Ehr, recognized the fundamental importance of developing new talent in molecular nanotechnology, and we thank them for their support. We also would like to thank all of the exceptionally talented researchers in nanotechnology who take time out of their busy research schedules to tutor and mentor new talent in the field. Would all the people involved in teaching nanotechnology please raise your hands? [A substantial fraction of those attending the awards banquet raised their hands.] I would like to propose that we consider a nanotechnology teaching award in the years ahead.

The 2002 winner of the Distinguished Student Award is Yi Cui.

Yi's work has centered on the synthesis, electronic properties, and applications of single crystal, doped silicon nanowires. His initial doctoral work demonstrated for the first time that nanowires could be doped reproducibly to create p-type and n-type materials. Subsequently, Yi made significant advances in the area of molecular electronics with his assembly of a number of critical molecular scale device elements, including p-n diodes, bipolar transistors that exhibit large gain, and inverters. Yi's work demonstrated that electronically well-defined nanomaterials can be organized into structures with predictable electronic device properties.

Yi recently extended this work by demonstrating that doped nanowires can be configured as extraordinarily sensitive detectors. Yi configured his silicon nanowires as field-effect transistors and then modified the nanowire surface with organic and biological receptors to create highly selective sensors. When biological or chemical species bind to the receptors they effectively 'gate' the molecular scale transistor so that binding is readily assessed through the nanowire's conductance. Yi has demonstrated that these new nanosensors can be used to detect protons, metals and even proteins. More recently, he has merged antibody technology with his nanosensors to create a general platform for protein detection, and using this system has demonstrated multiplexed detection of cancer marker proteins in real-time, with sensitivities that exceed the best available assays. Yi has also pushed the detection limit of the nanowire sensors to the level of detecting single molecules.

Nominations for the 2002 Foresight Institute Distinguished Student Award

The Foresight Institute Distinguished Student award recognizes the college graduate or undergraduate student whose work is deemed most notable in advancing the development and understanding of nanotechnology. The award will be presented at the 2002 Foresight Institute Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology, to be held October 11-13, 2002, in Bethesda, Maryland.

The award recipient must accept in person at the Feynman Awards Banquet at the Conference. The winner will receive complimentary full registration including tutorial and banquet, coach airfare and up to 4 nights hotel (arranged by Foresight Institute, Sat. night stay required), $250 cash to cover additional expenses, and the physical award.

Nominations are due by September 10, 2002

Please send in your nominations to the Foresight Institute to arrive by September 10, 2002. Nominations should include name, educational institution, mailing address, telephone number, and email address of the nominee, as well as a paper, electronic, or web document URL describing the work for which the student is being nominated. If you are nominating someone else, please include your own contact information as well. Nominations should be sent to:

2002 Distinguished Student Award
Foresight Institute
PO Box 61058
Palo Alto, CA 94306 USA
Voice: 650-917-1122
Fax: 650-917-1123

Email is strongly preferred for all entries. Any enclosures should be in the form of ASCII text, a Microsoft Word document, PDF, or simply a URL to a Web page.

The winner will be selected in time to allow time to make arrangements to attend the 2002 Conference. He or she must be a full-time student at the time of the presentation.

The award is intended primarily to enable the winning student to attend Foresight Institute's Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology, which is held annually to bring together leaders in nanotechnology research.

Relevant Research Areas

Research areas considered relevant to molecular nanotechnology and molecular manufacturing include but are not limited to:

  • biomolecular machinery
  • computational chemistry
  • supramolecular chemistry
  • mechanosynthesis
  • molecular machines
  • scanning probes
  • nanomaterials
  • self-assembly

Special consideration will be given to submissions clearly leading toward the construction of a general-purpose molecular assembler. Applicants wishing further information on the field of the prize are referred to the book Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation (Wiley Interscience, 1992).

Distinguished Student Award Established in 1997

The Foresight Institute Distinguished Student Award was established in 1997 and institutionalizes the first grant made in 1996 by Foresight to John M. Michelsen, a University of California at Irvine chemistry student.

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