Dr. Donald W. Brenner, associate professor of materials science and engineering at NC State, has received the prestigious 2002 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize for his pioneering research in theoretical nanotechnology.

The Foresight Institute, a nonprofit educational organization formed to prepare society for the impact of molecular nanotechnology, awards two $5,000 Feynman prizes each year: one each for theoretical and experimental advances in nanotechnology. The prizes are named for Nobel laureate physicist Dr. Richard P. Feynman, who predicted the possibilities of molecular-scale engineering in his famous 1959 speech entitled "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom.”

Brenner’s award recognizes advances he made at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and at NC State in molecular machine systems modeling and the design and analysis of components likely to be important to the future of molecular manufacturing. He developed the first mathematical expression that allowed chemistry to be modeled on an equal footing for molecular and solid systems, and that was computationally efficient enough to be used in large-scale molecular simulations. The publication of Brenner’s initial breakthrough is on the list of NRL’s most cited publications, and the mathematical expression is used in universities, government, and industrial labs worldwide.

Brenner was recruited in 1994 from the NRL to NC State’s College of Engineering, where he and his collaborators have recently published an improved version that better describes properties such as bulk elastic constants. His current simulation work supports experimental efforts at several research institutions. Since joining NC State, Brenner has received two awards for outstanding teaching, and has developed new technologies for materials education.

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