Five pioneers in the field of nanotechnology were named as the joint recipients of the 2008 Prince of Asturias Prize for scientific and technological research. Sharing the honor are engineers Robert Langer and Shuji Nakamura, chemists Tobin Marks and George M. Whitesides and physicist Sumio Iijima.
Whitesides is Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Harvard. He is past chair of the department and former associate dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. His research group is devoted to the study of physical and organic chemistry, materials science, biophysics, complexity, surface science, microfluidics, self-assembly, micro- and nanotechnology, science for developing economies, origin of life, and cell-surface biochemistry. Among many honors throughout his career, he was the winner of the National Medal of Science in 1998.
"I will be honored to share this award with my several colleagues, for its recognition of materials as an important part of science and technology," Whitesides said. "The accomplishments included in the award span the full range of properties and applications, from biomedicine to electronics. I am also honored to be included in such company."
Langer, Marks, and Nakamura have all been active at SPIE events. Nakamura, a pioneer in LED technology, is the subject of a book from SPIE Press: Brilliant!: Shuji Nakamura and the Revolution in Lighting Technology (2007).
Bestowed in the name of Prince Felipe of Asturias, the heir to the Spanish throne, each prize comes with a cash award of 50,000 euros (about $77,600) and a reproduction of a statuette designed by Joan Miro.
The Prince of Asturias Foundation's statutes establish that the aim of the awards is to acknowledge and extol "scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanistic work carried out by individuals, groups or institutions worldwide". Constant with this spirit, the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research will be bestowed upon the individual, work group or institution whose discoveries or research represent a significant contribution to the progress of humanity in the fields of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Medicine, Earth and Space Sciences, as well as their related technical aspects and technologies."
Prince of Asturias Foundation press release.