Richard P. Feynman


2013 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize

Submissions/nominations were due October 31, 2013

Winners of the 2013 Feynman Prizes in Nanotechnology

Alexander K. Zettl (L) and Ralph C. Merkle (R)
David N. Beratan and Ralph C. Merkle
Top: Alexander K. Zettl (L), University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, winner of the 2013 Feynman Prize for Experimental work; Ralph C. Merkle (R), Chairman of the Prize Committee
Bottom: David N. Beratan, Duke University, winner of the 2013 Feynman Prize for Theory, and Ralph C. Merkle
The 2013 Feynman Prizes were awarded February 8, 2014 at the Feynman Awards Luncheon of the Foresight Technical Conference “Integration“.

Palo Alto, CA — January 23, 2014 – Foresight is pleased to announce the winners of the 2013 Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes for Nanotechnology Theory and Experiment.

The winner of the 2013 Feynman Prize for Experiment is Alexander K. Zettl, Professor, Condensed Matter Physics And Materials Science, U.C. Berkeley, and Senior Scientist, Materials Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The award recognizes Prof. Zettl’s exceptional work in the fabrication of nanoscale electromechanical systems (NEMS), spanning multiple decades and including carbon nanotube-based bearings, actuators, and sensors brought to fruition with cutting-edge nanoscale engineering. Making remarkable strides towards nanoscale integrated systems, Prof Zettl produced a reversible mass transport memory device which integrated a nanoparticle and a nanotube into a more complex functional device with external controllability, and most recently a loudspeaker incorporating a graphene diaphragm, demonstrating that high-performance, nanoscale materials can be engineered into usable products even before those materials are fully characterized. Additional accomplishments of his solid state physics research group include characterizing electronic, magnetic and mechanical properties of diverse nanoscale materials.

The winner of the 2013 Feynman Prize for Theory is David N. Beratan, R.J. Reynolds Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physics, Duke University. The award recognizes Prof. Beratan’s development of theoretical approaches to understand the function of complex molecular and macromolecular assemblies and machines. The accomplishments of his research group range from formulating the first molecular-level descriptions of how charge flows through proteins and nucleic acids to designing molecular-scale memory devices. His research group established the electron tunneling pathway model for biological electron transfer to understand the molecular machines of bioenergetics, the “inverse design” approach to discover molecular structures with optimal properties, and the first simulations of how chiral information is transferred at the nanoscale through electronic and conformational imprinting..

The awards will be presented at the 2014 Foresight Technical Conference: Integration, to be held February 7-9, 2014 at the Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel, Palo Alto, CA USA, where the winners will give lectures on their groundbreaking work to leading scientists in the field of nanotechnology.

In awarding the prizes, Ralph C. Merkle, Chairman of the Prize Committee, noted that “The work of these Feynman Prize winners has brought us one step closer to answering Feynman’s 1959 question, ‘What would happen if we could arrange atoms one by one the way we want them?’ The ability to simulate and manipulate atoms advanced by the work of these Prize winners will enable us to design and build engineered molecular machinery with atomic precision. �It will take us another step on the way to the development of revolutionary nanotechnologies that will transform our lives for the better.”

The annual Feynman Prizes recognize significant advancements on the road to the award of the �$250,000 Feynman Grand Prize, an incentive prize that will be awarded to the first researchers to make a nanometer-scale robotic arm and a nanometer-scale computing device, two critical components of an atomic scale�molecular manufacturing system.

The Foresight Feynman Prizes were established by the Foresight Institute in 1993 and named in honor of Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman whose influential essay, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” inspired the first work on nanoscale science. The Institute awards Feynman prizes each year to recognize researchers—one for theoretical work and one for empirical research—whose recent work has most advanced the field toward the achievement of Feynman’s vision for nanotechnology: molecular manufacturing, the construction of atomically-precise products through the use of molecular machine systems.

For more information about the Foresight Feynman Prizes, past winners and the Feynman Grand Prize please see the information on the Foresight website at For more information about prizes and prize nominations please contact [email protected].

Contributors to the Feynman Prizes    

This year’s Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes in Nanotechnology were made possible, in part, by donations from Colleagues and Friends of Foresight, including:

Alcy L. and Patrick H. Fass Charitable Trust
Jeremiah R. Fass, administrator

Many thanks to Anonymous Donors that have made the Feynman Prizes possible!

2013 Foresight Institute 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 achievement of Feynman’s goal for nanotechnology: molecular manufacturing, defined as the construction of atomically-precise products through the use of molecular machine systems. Synonyms include “atomically precise manufacturing” (APM) and “productive nanosystems”. Separate prizes will be awarded for theoretical work and for experimental work.

The winners of this year’s prizes will be announced at the 2014 Foresight Technical Conference: Integration, to be held February 7-9, 2014 at the Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel, Palo Alto, CA USA. Each prizewinner (or one member of a winning team) must accept in person at the award ceremony. For each Prize, a travel stipend of up to US$1500 will be provided for one winner to attend the Conference and accept the Prize.

This prize is given 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 APM (e.g., atomically precise manufacturing, molecular manufacturing, productive nanosystems and molecular machine systems) include but are not limited to:

  • artificial molecular machines
  • atomically-precise construction
  • biomolecular machinery
  • computational chemistry and molecular modeling
  • mechanosynthesis
  • nanomechanical engineering
  • nanomanipulation
  • natural molecular machines
  • scanning probes and nanometrology
  • self-assembly
  • self-replicating machines
  • supramolecular chemistry
  • ultra-precision machining

Special consideration will be given to submissions clearly leading toward the construction of productive nanosystems. Applicants wishing further information on the field of the prize are referred to the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems and the book Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation (Wiley Interscience, 1992).

Selection Committee for the 2013 Prizes

A committee chaired by a previous Feynman Prize recipient will be asked to select this year’s honorees.

Nominations and Submissions

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

Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes Submission or Nomination Instructions.