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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.”


About Lars Samuelson

Born: 1948

Career in selection:

1977 PhD in Solid State Physics at Lund University.

1978 Post doc at the IBM Research Center in San José California.

1986 Professor of Semiconductor Physics at Chalmers University of Technology.

1988 Professor of Nanotechnology and Semiconductor Electronics at Lund University.

1988 Founds the Nanometer Konsortiet (later renamed Nanolund), which becomes Scandinavia's first center for Nano Research.

2005 Starts the company QuNano, which becomes a testbed for new nanotechnology.

2006 Starts the company Glo, which manufactures LEDs in the nanoscale.

2008 Starts the solar panel company Sol Voltaics, which manufactures solar cells based on nanowires.

2015 Starts the company Hexagem, which develops semiconductors made of gallium nitride instead of silicon.

2021 Chair professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen in China, where he leads the Institute for Nanoscience and Applications (INA).

Lars Samuelson is a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) since 2007, and of the Royal The Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA) since 2006. He is also a Fellow of, among others, the American Physical Society and the Japanese Society of Applied Physics. In 2008, he was appointed Einstein Professor by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

IVAs Great Gold Medal

For more than a century, IVA has celebrated excellence in technology, economics, business and society by awarding Gold Medals to people who, through their outstanding achievements, have helped to create a better society.

IVA's Great Gold Medal is awarded to the person who has made a particularly outstanding deed within the academy's field of activity.

Learn more on IVAs Gold Medals