Ben Long author image Ben Long

Three Nobel Laureates visit University of Wollongong

World experts address International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

The International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICONN 2018) opened today (Tuesday, 30 January) at the University of Wollongong (UOW), with three Nobel laureates – Professor Steven Chu (Physics, 1997), Professor Ada Yonath (Chemistry, 2009) and Sir Fraser Stoddart (Chemistry, 2016) – among the headline speakers.

ICONN 2018 (30 January – 2 February) focuses on the new and exciting advances in the field of nanoscience and technology, bringing together world experts at the forefront of change and innovation, developing innovative devices out of particles 1000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

Conference co-chair and Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) Professor Gordon Wallace said it was an honour to host three Nobel Prize winners at this important event and provide the unique opportunity for the public to experience this.

“ACES at UOW is excited to bring the world of science and innovation to the Gong. Given our society of tomorrow will be built in the science of today, we know the local community will get engaged,” Professor Wallace said.

“This major international conference will focus on translating the fundamental knowledge of nanoscience and technology into practical devices that can be used commercially to influence change on a global level.”

Professor Chu, who served as the United States Secretary for Energy from 2009-13 under the Obama Administration, was a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997 for the "development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light", shared with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William Daniel Phillips.

He is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University in California.

Professor Ada Yonath received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitzfor, for her studies on the structure and function of the ribosome. She is the first Israeli woman to win the Nobel Prize, the first woman from the Middle East to win a Nobel prize in the sciences, and the first woman in 45 years to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

She is director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Sir Fraser (pictured above) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2016 for his development of “rotaxane”, a structure in which a molecular ring is threaded onto a thin molecular axle, and demonstrating that the ring could move along the axle. This achievement led to innovations such as a molecular lift, a molecular muscle and a molecule based computer chip.

Sir Fraser heads the Stoddart Mechanostereochemistry Group in the Department of Chemistry at Northwestern University in Illinois,and has also been appointed part-time to the School of Chemistry at UNSW where he will spend three months each year.

The conference program will cover subjects such as nanostructure growth, synthesis, fabrication, characterization, device design, theory, modelling, testing, applications, commercialisation, and health and safety aspects of nanotechnology.

UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings, CBE, welcomed the Nobel Laureates and other delegates to the University at the conference opening ceremony.

“This is the 7th ICONN and the first to be held outside a capital city. We pride ourselves as a University seeking to turn ideas into action and are delighted you chose to come to Wollongong and pleased to see such a large and diverse group of participants,” he said.

"I hope this week’s conference leaves you with several images: of Wollongong as a beautiful and vibrant place; of the University as a dynamic, research-intensive institution; and of ICONN 2018, as a creative meeting generating new opportunities.”

Noble Laureates - collageNobel Laureates Professor Ada Yonath (Chemistry, 2009), Professor Steven Chu (Physics, 1997) and Sir Fraser Stoddart (Chemistry, 2016), with UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings, CBE, and ACES Director Professor Gordon Wallace at the ICONN 2018 conference.