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    Double award


    This does not happen very often. Just under a year ago, Laurens Molenkamp received the Europhysics Prize for discovering the quantum spin Hall effect. Now the American Physical Society has conferred on the Würzburg physicist the 2012 Buckley Prize for the same work.

    Its full name is the “Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize”. Founded in 1952 by Bell Laboratories, whose President was Oliver E. Buckley, every year the American Physical Society honors physicists in this way for major work in the field of solid state physics.

    The society has just announced that Laurens Molenkamp, Chairman of the Department of Experimental Physics III at the University of Würzburg, will receive the Buckley Prize next year – together with his US colleagues Charles L. Kane (University of Pennsylvania) and Shoucheng Zhang (Stanford University).

    The prize will officially be presented at the American Physical Society conference in Boston at the end of February 2012.

    Prize for discovering the quantum spin Hall effect

    The Society is awarding the prize in recognition of the theoretical prediction and first experimental observation of the quantum spin Hall effect and of so-called topological insulators.

    Molenkamp and his colleagues succeeded in proving the existence of the quantum spin Hall effect in 2007. They published their work at that time in the top science journal Science. Their findings received considerable attention in specialist circles: using the quantum spin Hall effect it is possible to transport and manipulate the information held on modern storage media without energy loss.

    This opens up intriguing prospects: if the newly discovered effect could be used for the future construction of computers, these would be able to work at super-fast speeds without becoming warm. The semiconductor industry would be delighted – the heating-up of chips is currently one of the factors severely limiting the development of even quicker PCs and laptops.

    2010 Europhysics Prize

    Würzburg professors Laurens Molenkamp and Hartmut Buhmann had already received the renowned Europhysics Prize for this discovery in June 2010. Since 1975, this prize has been awarded every two years by the European Physical Society (EPS). It too honors outstanding work in the field of solid state physics.


    Prof. Dr. Laurens Molenkamp, tel.: +49 (0)931 31-84925, e-mail: molenkamp@physik.uni-wuerzburg.de

    By Gunnar Bartsch