The Grundfos Prize 2006 to nano professor

This morning, the Grundfos Prize 2006 was awarded to professor, DSc Flemming Besenbacher, Centre Director of the iNANO centre at the University of Aarhus.

He was awarded the prize in recognition of his great research efforts within material and surface physics as well as nanotechnology and nanoscience.

The reason given for the choice of the award winner is:

”Flemming Besenbacher's research is internationally recognised as belonging to the absolute top class. In addition to his own research efforts, he has played a decisive role in the Danish dedication within research in nanotechnology and nanoscience. With enthusiasm and vision, he has attracted attention from a very large number of industrial partners and students for the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center, iNANO of which he as been Centre Director since the establishment of the centre in 2002. iNANO is a model centre for nano related research at the Universities of Aarhus and Aalborg even though the main part of the iNANO activities take place at the University of Aarhus. This cooperation contributes to gathering research resources."

At the prize award ceremony, Grundfos' Chairman of the Board of Directors, Niels Due Jensen said:
”The reports from Globaliseringsrådet (the Danish Globalisation Council) and Velfærdskommissionen (Welfare Commission) have persuaded the government to be interested in strengthening Danish research and education in the years to come. It is positive that the government wishes to strengthen the management of the universities in order for the money to be spent more targeted than previously, however, the government should not succumb to the temptation of implementing a top-down management of the universities via the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. It has now been possible to establish boards with very competent members and to ensure that they remain at their seats, they must be given responsibility and meaningful tasks. In my opinion, it is good to have a healthy competition between the universities where each university gets its own explicit profile. However, if a political top-down management is required, it will be difficult to maintain qualified persons in the boards of the universities.”

Minister for the Environment, Connie Hedegaard, who was the guest speaker at the award ceremony, said: ”We will need all the technological fantasy we can think of to solve our own problems and to contribute to the solving of the growing environmental problems in the world around us. I believe that Danish research within high technology will make it possible for us to make a noticeable contribution in the decades ahead. Danish companies already have a significant export of environment and energy sufficient technology - DKK 40-45 billion on an annual basis - and I have no doubts that we will experience an increasing demand for state-of-the-art technological solutions of the global environmental problems.”

The iNANO centre was founded as an interdisciplinary collaboration of research groups in physics, chemistry, molecular biology and medicine. The keyword in nanotechnology is interdisciplinary, emphasises Flemming Besenbacher. The reason is that the traditional boundaries between physics, chemistry and molecular biology are erased at nano level.

The technology has its name from the distance a nanometre which is a millionth part of a millimetre. A nanometre is approx. 100,000 times smaller than the thickness of a hair.

The ability to work at that level makes it possible to achieve new or very improved functions and properties, and Flemming Besenbacher mentions as an example that the medical science is able to use nanotechnology for new materials for artificial knees and hips as well as medicaments without side-effects.

It may also be used within computer technology and the metal industry will also benefit from the technology, e.g. for new surfaces and energy systems.

The nanotechnology may gain an even larger effect on the sociological tendency than when the semiconductor chip was introduced as nanotechnology may be used in so many other areas than electronics, says Flemming Besenbacher.

It is thus an innovative area headed towards the future which today is awarded the Grundfos Prize consisting of a statuette and DKK 1 million, of which DKK 250,000 is a personal gift, while the remaining amount is earmarked for the research area in question.

The panel consists of:

Nina Smith, Professor at the University of Aarhus

Preben Terndrup Pedersen, Professor at the Technical University of Denmark

Sven Caspersen, former Rector at Aalborg University

Manager Lars Kolind, Chairman of The Poul Due Jensen Foundation

Niels Due Jensen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Grundfos Group.

The Prize was presented at the Danish Design Centre. The Grundfos Prize, which this year is awarded for the fourth time, is given with the purpose of promoting, acknowledging and supporting national and international research in innovative and foresighted solutions in engineering, science and social science – separately or in a combination.

Former recipients of the Prize are:

Ole Sigmund, Professor Dr. techn. Sc., of the Technical University of Denmark

Professor Svend Erik Hougaard Jensen, Research Manager Nikolaj Malchow-Møller, Professor Jan Rose Skaksen, Professor Anders Sørensen and Professor Ulrich Kaiser (these five shared the prize for a social science prize paper)

Frede Blåbjerg, Professor at Aalborg University.