Richard P. Feynman


1999 Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology

Nominations due July 27,1999

Winners of the 1999 Feynman Prizes

The 1999 Feynman Prizes in Nanotechnology were awarded during the Seventh Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology to Phaedon Avouris of IBM for experimental work, and to a team led by William A. Goddard III at Caltech for theoretical work.

Dr. Avouris, of the IBM T.J.Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY, is a leader in the development of carbon nanotubes for potential computing device applications. This work is considered directly on the pathway to molecular-scale computation—necessary for the computer industry to stay on the Moore’s Law curve, which predicts atomic-level precision before 2015.

Professor William Goddard, Dr. Tahir Cagin, and Ms. Yue Qi shared the theory prize for their work in modeling the operation of molecular machine designs. Proposed designs for future molecular machine systems can be tested today on powerful supercomputers using sophisticated programs that accurately model the laws of chemistry, giving us a clearer picture both of what works and what doesn’t work. Goddard’s group—which operates out of the Materials and Process Simulation Center, Caltech, in Pasadena, CA—does some of the most advanced modeling possible today.

The Prizes include a cash award of $5000 per team. They are named in honor of the late Nobel Prizewinning physicist Richard Feynman, whose 1959 talk “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” inspired many researchers to pursue the ultimate in miniaturization.

Finalists for the 1999 Feynman Prizes

The following five individuals or teams were selected as Finalists for the 1999 Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, Experimental:

The following five individuals or teams were selected as Finalists for the 1999 Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, Theoretical:

1999 Feynman Prizes for Theoretical and Experimental Molecular Nanotechnology

Two prizes in the amount of $5,000 each will be awarded to the researchers whose recent work has most advanced the development of molecular nanotechnology. This year again separate prizes will be awarded for theoretical work and for experimental work. The prizes will be given at the Seventh Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology, to be held October 15-17, 1999.

This prize is in honor of Richard P. Feynman who, in 1959, gave a visionary talk at Caltech in which he said “The problems of chemistry and biology can be greatly helped if our ability to see what we are doing, and to do things on an atomic level, is ultimately developed—a development which I think cannot be avoided.”

Relevant Research Areas

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

  • molecular electronics
  • biochemical molecular engineering
  • scanning probe microscopy
  • supramolecular chemistry and self-assembly
  • materials science
  • mechanosynthesis
  • natural molecular machines
  • artificial molecular machines
  • artificial self replicating systems
  • computational chemistry and molecular modeling
  • computer science
  • mechanical engineering and robotics applications
  • relevant chemical systems (fullerenes, diamond, biomolecules, etc.)

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).

Selection Committee for the 1999 Prize

A committee of previous Feynman Prize winners has been invited to select this year’s honorees:

Previous Feynman Prize winners

Distinctions between the annually awarded Feynman Prizes and the Feynman Grand Prize

Feynman Prizes
Experimental $5000 Presented for the best
work published in
recent years.
Theoretical $5000
Grand Prize
$250,000 Presented for demonstration
of 50 nanometer 8 bit adder
and 100 nanometer robot arm.

The 1999 Feynman Prize will be the most recent in a series of annually awarded prizes for accomplishment in molecular nanotechnology. Both the annual Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology and the Feynman Grand Prize are sponsored by the Foresight Institute to encourage and accelerate the development of molecular nanotechnology. Both are named in honor of Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman. However, these prizes differ in focus, frequency of award, and scale.

The 1999 and other annual Prizes (originally designated the Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology) recognize recent achievements that contribute to the development of nanotechnology. The nature of the achievement is not specified in advance, and the judges choose from among the entries submitted which one most advanced the field during the preceding several years. In contrast, the Grand Prize will be awarded at some undetermined date in the future when someone builds two specified working devices, an accomplishment that will signal a crucial milestone on the road to a mature molecular manufacturing technology.

The annual Prize was awarded in 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998, and now in 1999. It will be awarded every year until the Grand Prize is awarded, at which point the series of annual Prizes will be finished.

The first annual Prize was $5000, the second was $10,000, and since the third the annual Prize has consisted of two prizes of $5,000 each, awarded for separate accomplishments in theoretical and in experimental areas. The Grand Prize will be at least $250,000.

Submission or Nomination Procedures

Either submit your own work or nominate a colleague who deserves this prize.

Submissions (and nominations) consist of up to five maximum of the following:

  • an approved thesis or dissertation (bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D.)
  • an article published in a refereed journal
  • a paper approved for publication in a refereed journal

In addition, each submission or nomination must include a one-page summary of the work and its relevance to the goal of molecular nanotechnology and/or molecular manufacturing. [If the journal article submitted has multiple authors, the applicant’s (nominee’s) role in the research must be stated.] Summaries may be up to 400 words in length.

Submissions should be mailed to the Foresight Institute at the postal address below, to arrive by July 27,1999. One copy of the paper or thesis and one copy of the one-page summary are required. The summary must include the applicant’s address, telephone, and (if possible) fax number and email address. In the case of nominations, contact information should be included for both nominator and nominee. Finalists may be contacted for additional information. The prizewinner must be present at the conference to accept the prize.

Applications may also be based upon more than one research paper, up to a maximum of five papers, in which case a copy of each paper should be submitted.

Individual submissions are preferred, but teams of up to three will be considered. Team members may not be changed after the submission deadline.

For further information, contact the Foresight Institute