Optics Researchers Scoop Blavatnik National Awards
31 July 2014
Two out of the three laureates of the 2014 Blavatnik National Awards won their prizes for research related to optics, according to the New York Academy Of Science.
Designed to honor exceptional young US scientists for their extraordinary achievements, the awards are given each year by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences. With the award, each of the three laureates also receives a cash prize of $250,000.
One of this year's laureates is Marin Soljacic, professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is recognized for his numerous discoveries of novel physical phenomena revolving around the interaction between light and matter.
Based on his findings, a wireless power transfer technology using magnetic fields was developed. It can be applied in various consumer electronics, like wireless mobile phone and laptop chargers. When receiving the award, Soljacic commented that the recognition confirms the importance of what he's doing and encourages him to be even bolder in the future.
The 2014 Blavatnik National Laureate in Chemistry, in turn, is Adam Cohen from Harvard University. By using microscopy and lasers, he has developed non-invasive methods for observing the cellular voltage in the brain. Ultimately, his research will help scientists design treatments for like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), epilepsy, and bipolar disorders.
Unlike most contemporary chemists, who specialize in a narrow field, Cohen's research led to interdisciplinary breakthroughs in optics, cellular imaging, single molecule manipulation, and magnetic field controlled chemical reactions. When receiving the award, Cohen stressed that it will help his future research attract funding that it otherwise may not have had.
The third winner is Rachel Wilson, also hailing from Harvard. She is awarded for her contribution to studying sensory processing and neural circuitry in the fruit fly.