IVA’s Great Gold Medal 2022: Lars Samuelson – a Swedish nano pioneer
Pioneer Lars Samuelson has made a name for himself as one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology. As an innovator and research leader, he has established Sweden’s first centre for nanoscience – NanoLund.
For more than three decades, he has brought together researchers from all over the world to make ground-breaking progress in areas such as the development of more energy-efficient and cheaper photovoltaics and LEDs.
– “Over the past 20 years, we have seen incredible breakthroughs in nanotechnology,” says Lars Samuelson, who has been researching nanoscience and nanotechnology since the 1980s. He first became Professor of Semiconductor Physics at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, but since 1988 he has also been Professor of Nanotechnology and Semiconductor Electronics at Lund University.
The art of directing atoms
Nanoscience and nanotechnology is about studying and manipulating different substances down to the individual atomic level. It is a field of research that has opened up opportunities to create completely new materials, designed to achieve specific properties or functions. This revolutionary field has enabled IT to make giant strides in a number of socially relevant areas of technology, such as biotechnology and IT, based on being able to design down to a scale of billionths of a metre.
– “Almost all modern IT is based on nanotechnology. The latest chips have transistors that are only three to five nanometres long, so we are talking about a row of around 20 atoms.”
A creative changemaker
During his career, Lars Samuelson has become known as a creative changemaker, with the ability to bring together experts in many different fields and get them to work towards the same goal. Back in 1988, he founded the Nanometer Structure Consortium, later renamed NanoLund, as Northern Europe’s first centre for nano research, and it is here that he and researchers from all over the world have made several groundbreaking discoveries. In the early 2000s, his research team managed to be among the first in the world to build ‘nanowires’, long thread-shaped crystals that can be grown in a laboratory environment in order to achieve certain properties. These can be used to build more efficient and cheaper semiconductors, which today form the cornerstone of all electronics and optoelectronics used in LED lamps, among other things.
A master of translating research into social benefit
With the help of his world-leading research, Lars Samuelson and his team have repeatedly made pioneering breakthroughs that have brought concrete benefits to society. Over the years, his research has been spun into several companies that have built on his nanowire research to develop commercially viable products. One example is the company Glo, which, with the help of nanowires, has developed technology for manufacturing extremely small LEDs. This technical advance has proved so interesting that last year Glo was acquired by Silicon Valley-based company Nanosys, the USA’s leading manufacturer of displays based on nanotechnology. Another example is Hexagem. This spin-off company has been working with Lars’ team of researchers in Lund to develop semiconductors that are made not of silicon, but of gallium nitride (GAN), and can be used in applications such as electric cars and display technology.
Jury citation for IVA’s Great Gold Medal
“Professor Lars Samuelson is awarded IVA’s Great Gold Medal for his internationally outstanding contributions as an innovative researcher and research leader in nanoscience and nanotechnology and for the application of the scientific results, not least in semiconductor technology.”