NREL'S Zunger Receives Scientific Award

For more information contact:
Kerry Masson 303-275-4083
email: Kerry Masson

Golden, Colo., Aug. 18, 2000 - Alex Zunger, a leading scientist and research fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has been named the 2001 recipient of the prestigious John Bardeen award from The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS).

The annual award recognizes "an individual who has made an outstanding contribution and is a leader in the field of electronic materials." It is named in honor of John Bardeen, a two-time Nobel Prize winner in physics who set the foundation for the current state of understanding of electronic materials. His work led to development of the solid state transistor and a greater understanding of superconductivity.

Zunger was cited for his "contributions to the theoretical understanding and prediction of 'spontaneous ordering,' phase-stability and electronic properties of semiconductor alloys." "Spontaneous ordering" is a phenomenon whereby atoms forming an alloy organize in special geometric arrangements, instead of being distributed randomly. Zunger's research predicted the ordered arrangements and demonstrates that the ordering can alter physical properties of materials, creating new, technologically significant functions. The award recognizes the impact that Zunger's work in this field has had on experimental studies of electronic materials and his continued leadership in the field.

"I am honored to receive this award," Zunger said. Zunger conducts solid state theory research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In more than 20 years with the lab, his work has focused on semiconductor materials and photon energy conversion. He is author or co-author of more than 400 journal articles and his research in condensed matter theory of real materials has led to several scientific breakthroughs.

The research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Photovoltaic Program and by DOE's Office of Science, Basic Energy Science, Division of Materials Science. More information is available at

Zunger received his doctoral degree from Tel Aviv University in 1976 and completed post-doctoral research at Northwestern University and the University of California Berkeley. He received the DOE Sustained Outstanding Research in Solid State Physics award in 1997 for his work, Prediction of Novel Ordered Intermetallic Compounds and their Properties. In 1998, he was ranked as one of the most cited physicists in the world by the Institute of Scientific Information, a ranking based on the number of times his research was cited by fellow scientists.

Zunger's other areas of interest include photovoltaic materials, the theory of semiconductor quantum-dots and the theoretical design and predictions of stable crystal structures and phase-diagrams.

The Bardeen award will be presented formally to Zunger at the 130th Annual TMS meeting in New Orleans on Feb. 13.


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