Libmonster ID: RU-17167
Author(s) of the publication: Marina MALYGINA

by Marina MALYGINA, journalist

The first scientists, who were awarded the UNESCO medal For Contribution to the Development of Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies, were the Nobel laureate of 2000 Academician Zhores Alferov, RAS Vice-President, and Chunli Bai, Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, professor of the Molecular Nanostructure Chemistry Laboratory in Beijing. The ceremony was held in November 2010 at the Paris headquarters of the international organization.

Academician Zhores Alferov, who was awarded the UNESCO medal and Diploma For Contribution to the Development of Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies.

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Collection and systematization of data on a knotty, complex and highly urgent problem of preservation of terrestrial civilization are closely connected with UNESCO activities. The results of performed works were presented at the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg (Republic of South Africa) in 2002--there was presented the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, a unique electronic library containing about 600 volumes, 800 pages each (presented in a printed form). The encyclopedia was compiled by more than 7,000 well-known experts from 110 countries. This work--innovative both in form and in content-includes all-round reviews and detailed materials describing present-day state of mathematical, physical, energy, economic, agricultural, social, humanitarian and other sciences, as well as problems of the environment, conservation of the Earth, atmosphere, prospects of regional and cultural development.

The encyclopedia was designed as a living organism to be constantly supplemented with the development of mankind. And the rapid evolution of nanotechnologies in early 21st century "resulted" in creation of a separate section in it, which summed up information on the science and technology of creation, manufacture and sale of materials, functional structures and devices on atomic, molecular and nanometer levels. This section was prepared by a large group of world-known specialists, including scientists from Russia, which proves a significant potential of our country in this field of knowledge. In 2010, the first volume of the encyclopedia, dedicated to nanoscience, was published in Russian under assistance of the Russian Fund of Fundamental Research. In spring 2010, the UNESCO International Committee established a decoration--a medal that will be awarded to researchers, scientific and public institutions in recognition of their contribution to this perspective field of knowledge.

Zhores Alferov was awarded medal No. 1 and a diploma For Contribution to the Development of Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies. His first achievements in the field of negligibly small objects date back to late 1950s, when he worked at the Leningrad Institute of Physics and Technology, where national scientists designed semiconductor devices on the basis of bulk germanium. It was then (1959) that the idea to use a joint of two heterogeneous semiconductors (in place of a homogeneous semiconductor) originated. It is true, many scientists believed that such pairs had no future as it was impossible to produce proper samples at that moment.

But enthusiasts, even without support, continued studies. One of them-Zhores Alferov*--found a solution. He offered to use joints of elements of the 3rd and 5th groups in the Mendeleyev Periodic Table and was the first scientist to use them in lasers and microelectronics as they enabled to design new types of transistors with higher operating speed and less energy consumption. Thus, in late 1960s, Russian scientists developed the first industrial technology allowing to produce heterogeneous semiconductors, then the first in the world continuous wave laser and in 1986--solar batteries that successfully operated at the Mir* space station up to 2001 (i.e. the whole service life) without noticeable power reduction. These achievements cleared the way to the development of numerous innovative devices that we use in every-day life: lasers reading information on CDs, heterogeneous transistors that crucially increase efficiency of mobile phones and solar batteries (up to 40 percent, whereas ordinary performance index is 15-20 percent).

Chunli Bai who was awarded the UNESCO medal together with Alferov is known as the chief nanotechnolo-gist of China. He invented a series of sophisticated microscopes to measure characteristics of samples under consideration by way of different methods: an ultrahigh-vac-uum scanning tunnel microscope, ballistic electron emission and scanning near-field optic microscopes. He also published more than 300 works and got some dozens of patents.

According to UNESCO representatives, scientific ideas and practical results obtained on the basis of works of Alferov and Bai have significantly pushed forward mankind in understanding of nature and use of its resources. It is not by chance that nanotechnologies are among top national priorities in many countries. And the UNESCO, as an international institution, supports the progress of science. At the same time it is obvious that new technologies bring numerous problems, including moral ones. Stem cell studies, some aspects of gene engineering, in particular, cloning of highly developed organisms are discussed worldwide. The UNESCO was the first organization that initiated international discussions called Nanotechnologies and Ethics.

Zhores Alferov participated in the ceremony of granting awards in person (unfortunately, his colleague could not attend it) and delivered a lecture on the past and future of semiconductors. The UNESCO officials hope this ceremony will become traditional.

See: L. Zelyony, Yu. Zaitsev, "Getting to Know the Universe", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2005.--Ed.

See: R. Sures, E. Tropp, "On Fame's Eternal Beadroll", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2010.--Ed.


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