Dr. Alexander Efros Receives Humboldt Research Award

4/10/2008 - 22-08r
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Dr. Alexander Efros, a senior researcher at the Naval Research Laboratory's Center for Computational Materials Science, has been chosen to receive a Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany. Dr. Efros, a theoretical and computational physicist, was recognized for his "past accomplishments in research in the field of semiconductor nanostructures and quantum dots." The Humboldt Research Award is given to outstanding scientists and scholars from all disciplines from abroad whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future.

Dr. Efros is noted for his pioneering contributions to the theory of nanocrystal quantum dots, including the establishment of the basic model used for describing their electronic and optical properties. His contributions were instrumental in the creation of a new class of optical materials, which are indeed a new form of matter that can be considered as "artificial atoms." Like atoms they have discrete optical energy spectra that are tunable over a wide spectral-range by varying only the nanocrystals size. On the other hand these "artificial atoms" can be moved around with nano-meter precision and so form nanocrystal molecules. Researchers can put them in other materials as dopants or join them to a larger molecule to form a super molecule. As a result researchers have at their disposal, in principle, an unlimited number of "atomic elements" to form new materials. These structures, introduced more than two decades ago, currently represent one of the key elements of modern nanooptics, nanophotonics, and optoelectronics.

He has published more than 140 papers on nano-scale semiconductors and has given more than 50 invited presentations on this topic at various international meetings, in addition to more than 160 invited talks at various universities and laboratories. He is co-editor of two books on nano-scale semiconductors and co-organizer of many conferences on this topic. In 2001 Dr. Efros become a Fellow of the American Physical Society. In 2006 he received the Sigma Xi NRL Award for basic research. He also is the recipient of the Optical Society of America's 2006 R.W. Wood Prize, along with Louis E. Brus and Alexei Ekimov, for "discovery of nanocrystal quantum dots and pioneering studies of their electronic and optical properties."

Dr. Efros received his Master of Science degree in physical engineering in 1973 and his Ph.D. in physics in 1978, both from the Technical University in Leningrad, USSR. From 1981 to 1990, he worked as a senior researcher at the Ioffe Institute in Leningrad, and from 1990 to 1992 was a senior researcher in the Physics Department of the Technical University of Munich. From 1992 to 1993, Dr. Efros was a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in 1993 came to NRL as a consultant. In 1999 he became a senior researcher in NRL's Materials Science and Technology Division.

Dr. Efros was nominated for this award by three German scientists: Dr. Gerhard Abstreiter from the Technical University of Munich, Dr. Manfred Bayer from the University of Dortmund, and Dr. Bruno Meyer from the University of Giessen. The Humboldt Research Award provides for Dr. Efros to spend up to one year continuing his collaboration with these colleagues at the Universities of Dortmund and Giessen, and the Technical University of Munich. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is a non-profit foundation established by the Federal Republic of Germany for the promotion of international research cooperation. It enables highly qualified scholars who are not residents of Germany to spend extended periods of research in Germany and promotes academic contacts among researchers.

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