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Monday, 09 July 2012

ICN researchers share 2012 SPS Award in General Physics

Dr Alexander Eichler and Dr Johannes Güttinger, both of ICN’s Quantum Nanoelectronics Group, shares this year’s Swiss Physical Society Award in General Physics, but for two different projects.

For the first time ever, the Swiss Physical Society has given its annual Award in General Physics to two scientists for two different projects. Dr Eichler was honoured for work at ICN on nanomechanical resonators, published by him and his colleagues last year in Nature Nanotechnology. Dr Güttinger was honoured for his doctoral thesis at ETH Zurich and related work published in Physical Review Letters.

Dr Alexander Eichler, Marie Curie Postdoctoral Researcher in ICN's Quantum Nanoelectronics Group, and Dr Johannes Güttinger, Postdoctoral Researcher in the same Group, have just been co-awarded the Swiss Physical Society's 2012 Award in General Physics, but for two different projects.

Dr Eichler was honoured for his work at ICN on the non-linear nature of dampening effects in nanomechanical resonators fabricated from carbon nanotubes and graphene. The findings of Dr Eichler and his colleagues have been critical in helping scientists understand the mechanical behaviour of such resonators. In discovering non-linear vibrational mechanisms in these systems, they showed that previous assumptions of all linear behaviour were incorrect and would lead to inaccurate experimental predictions. The work was published last year in Nature Nanotechnology.

Eichler's team, led by ICN Group Leader Prof Adrian Bachtold, later harnessed this knowledge to develop the world's most sensitive nanomechanical resonator, which they described in another article, published earlier this year in Nature Nanotechnology. Nanomechanical resonators offer exciting potential in diverse applications such as highly-sensitive scientific instruments.

Dr Güttinger was awarded for his doctoral thesis, entitled "Graphene Quantum Dots", which he wrote and defended last year at ETH Zurich. He and his colleagues published work from that thesis in Physical Review Letters, in 2010.

Interestingly, this is the first year in which the SPS has given this Award to two scientists for two different projects—a fact which they attribute to the excellent quality of the candidate projects and the difficulty of the selection process. The other 2012 SPS Awards, in Condensed Matter Physics (sponsored by IBM) and in Applied Physics, were awarded to Dr Fabian Mohn and to Dr Adrian Chirila, respectively.


For more information on the SPS 2012 Awards, click here.The article related to Dr Eichler’s winning project, “Nonlinear damping in mechanical resonators made from carbon nanotubes and graphene”, can be accessed here.