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‘Swiss Nobel Prize’ British researcher wins top Swiss science award

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(© Keystone / Gaetan Bally)

Materials theory specialist Nicola Spaldin has been awarded this year’s Marcel Benoist prize for her groundbreaking research on multiferroics – a new class of substances that can act as magnets and react to electric fields.

This property makes multiferroics promising materials that could be used to replace silicon in computer chips.

“She has laid the foundation for an ultra-fast and energy-efficient data storage,” announced the Benoist foundationexternal link on Thursday. Born in England in 1969, Spaldin taught at the University of California before becoming a professor at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurichexternal link in 2011.

Thanks to her pioneering work, “electronic devices can now be equipped with a completely new architecture and higher energy efficiency. Possible applications are ultrafast computers, tiny data memories or medical precision measurements,” explained the foundation.

Spaldin was congratulated in Bern on Thursday by Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, the minister responsible for research. She said she appreciated the “excellent conditions” for research in Switzerland. The prize is worth CHF250,000 ($254,313).

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The Marcel Benoist Swiss Science Prizeexternal link has been awarded since 1920 to scientists based in Switzerland whose work has had a beneficial impact upon society. Ten prizewinners have subsequently been awarded the Nobel Prizeexternal link.


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