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January 25, 2012
ICS Prize of Excellence Awarded
The Israel Chemical Society (ICS) has awarded the 2011 Prize of Excellence to Doron Aurbach (Bar Ilan University) and David Cahen (Weizmann Institute of Science) for seminal work in electrochemistry and photovoltaics. The two researchers will receive the prize at the 77th annual meeting of the ICS in February this year. Aurbach is recognized for his research on non-aqueous electrochemistry, the development of rechargeable magnesium batteries, and the introduction of novel spectroelectrochemical tools for the study of reactive electrochemical systems. Cahen is awarded for his contributions to the chemistry and physics of photovoltaic materials and devices, and for providing means for controlling their optical and electronic properties.
"I am of course happy, because such a prize is a confirmation that I am doing my work well", Aurbach says. He points out that the recognition will encourage him in his future work. For Cahen it is particularly satisfying to receive this prize from a chemical society: "It is very nice to see that recognition for work on renewable energy research, which is highly interdisciplinary and therefore runs the risk of not being really counted by the individual disciplines, does get noted by (some of) those that are part of my work. Also, being trained –at least in part– as a chemist, getting this recognition from my chemistry peers is especially rewarding", he says.
Aurbach and Cahen have made important contributions to the fields of electrochemistry and photovoltaics, two areas of increasingly growing interest. "Electrochemistry provides the basis for the production of highly important power sources: primary and secondary batteries, fuel cells, super-capacitors, and photovoltaic cells for harvesting solar energy", Aurbach explains. "The ability to power portable electronic equipment by highly effective Li-ion batteries is a great success of modern electrochemistry", he adds. The researcher explains that one of the most important challenges of the scientific–technological community today is to reduce the danger of global warming: "Modern electrochemistry is in the center of these efforts, pushing the electric-vehicle revolution (developing suitable power sources) and leading to more effective harvesting of solar energy and to the development of new storage and conversion devices for sustainable energy". According to Aurbach, electrochemistry also plays an important role in the development of new effective sensors for medical use.
But in addition to its many applications, research in this field –and science in general– is just interesting by itself. Cahen says that learning new things is what makes his job as a scientist so interesting: "Notwithstanding the truth in Martin A. Schwartz's essay on the importance of stupidity in scientific research (doi: 10.1242/jcs.033340), the expectation that there is a chance to learn new things makes it fascinating", he says. "Naturally, there is also the hope that science can provide technology with new means for bettering humankind's lot on earth", he adds.
Picture: Left: Doron Aurbach; right: David Cahen