2016 Kavli Laureates for Nanoscience Honoured at Symposium

By . Published on 23 October 2017 in:
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30 years and 9,000 citations later, the inventors of the atomic force microscope (AFM) were recognised last year with the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience “for the invention and realisation of atomic force microscopy (AFM), a breakthrough in measurement technology and nano-sculpting that continues to have a transforming impact on nanoscience and technology.”

The Kavli Foundation, in collaboration with the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, has started to follow up the formal ceremony in Oslo with a series of symposia near or at the home locations where the laureates conducted their research or are now based.

Past and the future of the AFM
Past and the future of the AFM

In support of this effort on 25 September, IBM and the Kavli Foundation, with support by the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters, hosted Atomic Force Microscopy: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow at the SwissRe Centre for Global Dialogue in Rueschlikon, Switzerland, to honour two of the three pioneers responsible for AFM: Gerd Binnig and Christoph Gerber.

Nearly 200 guests attended, including Ambassador Mr. Thomas Hauff, Norwegian State Secretary Mr. Bjørn Haugstad, Swiss State Secretary Mr. Mauro Dell’Ambrogio, Government Councillor Ms. Carmen Walker Späh and Nobel Laureate K. Alex Müller. The audience also included nearly 50 students representing several Norwegian and Swiss universities.

Panel discussion with the honorees moderated by journalist Olivier Dessibourg.
Panel discussion with the honorees moderated by journalist
Olivier Dessibourg.

In addition to celebrating the AFM, one of other important themes highlighted by all of the speakers was the need for talent, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, a point made clear by Dr. Alessandro Curioni, an IBM Fellow and the director of the IBM Zurich Lab.

“This symposium is also about recognising the value of growing talent in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM and encouraging more students to choose this career path. The fact is, we simply need more STEM talent here in Europe.”

Curioni pointed to several IBM examples of contributing, in particular at its $90M collaborative nanotechnology centre, which is shared between IBM scientists and four ETH Zurich professors and dozens of students.

IBM post-doc scientist Dr. Niko Pavliček, whose research was recently on the cover of Nature Nanotech.(12, 308), was the keynote speaker on the agenda explaining the past and the future of the AFM, which is incredibly diverse in its applications – see Figure 1.

Following a 30 minute break, attendees were treated to a panel discussion with the honourees moderated by journalist Olivier Dessibourg.

After several questions on stage, a question from the audience was posed about knowing when you are on the right path to a eureka moment.

Binnig offered the following advice, “My strategy is, I prove to myself that this is the wrong path, and if I can’t prove this is the wrong path, I continue.”

Watch the replay of the event:

  1. IBM’s Zurich Laboratory Honoured with Historic Site Distinction
  2. STEM Alliance: Advancing And Scaling-Up Education – Industry Collaboration
  3. EPS Physics for Development Group goes back to school

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