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NREL Researcher is Top World Physicist

For more information contact:
Kerry Masson, (303) 275-4083
e:mail: kerry_masson@nrel.gov

Golden, Colo., March 17, 1998 — Dr. Alex Zunger, Institute Research Fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), has been ranked as one of the top physicists in the world by the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI). The standing is based on the number of times his research has been cited by fellow scientists.

Of the 517,111 physicists ranked in the ISI study, Zunger was the 39th most-cited physicist worldwide, and the seventh most-cited theoretical physicist. His published research was cited about 8,000 times by fellow physicists over a 15-year period. Being cited frequently in scientific literature by one's peers indicates the enduring scientific impact of a body of research. According to the Science Citation Index, most papers published in scientific journals are cited an average of once a year or less, and the frequency diminishes in subsequent years.

"Alex Zunger's contributions to the research community have contributed tremendously to NREL's laboratory status as a research organization," said Richard Truly, NREL director. "Being cited by your peers is the ultimate measure of the quality and quantity of world class research being conducted by scientists such as Alex."

Zunger, who conducts research on semiconductor materials and photon energy conversion, has been with NREL for 20 years. He is author of more than 300 journal articles and his research in condensed matter theory of real materials has led to several scientific breakthroughs.

In 1977, Zunger developed the first density functional pseudopotentials, affording for the first time a non-empirical pseudopotential description of the band structure of solids. In 1978, he co-developed the pseudopotential total energy method now widely used in all pseudopotential electronic structure calculations, and in 1981 he co-developed the most widely used exchange and correlation energy functional. He has developed pioneering theoretical methods for studying impurities in solids, surfaces, alloys, superlattices, the thermodynamics and optics of solids and the electrochromic properties of semiconductor quantum nanostructures.

Zunger received his doctoral degree from Tel-Aviv University in 1976 and completed post-doctoral research at Northwestern University. 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.

A complete list of the ISI ranking of most cited physicists can be found on the Internet at http://www.sst.nrel.gov under the link "most cited physicists."


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