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Science Prizes
The Nicholas Kurti Science Prize for Europe

The Nicholas Kurti Science Prize for Europe

Oxford Instruments NanoScience is proud to sponsor the Nicholas Kurti Science Prize for Europe for research in physical science. The Prize celebrates its 14th anniversary this year.

The objective of this Science Prize is to promote and recognise the novel work of young scientists working in the fields of low temperatures and/or high magnetic fields in Europe. Oxford Instruments is aware that there is a critical and often difficult stage for many between completing their PhD and gaining a permanent research position. The company therefore would like to help individuals who are producing innovative work by offering assistance both financially and through promotion of their research work.

All candidates should be nominated by a senior member of their department or Institute.

The prize is awarded by a committee of senior academics based throughout Europe.

The Nicholas Kurti Science Prize consists of:

  • €8,000 cash prize
  • a certificate and trophy
  • support to attend a conference in Europe

Dr Menno Veldhorst of  QuTech, Technical University of Delft has been selected as the 2019 winner of the NK Science Prize. Dr Veldhorst is presented with the Nicholas Kurti Science Prize trophy at the TopQC  2019 Conference on 12th June in Italy, where he presented his award-winning research work.

Nicholas Kurti 

The European prize for physics is named after Professor Nicholas Kurti (1908-1998). Professor Kurti is known for his distinguished work in ultra-low temperature physics at the Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford University. In fact, this location earned the name “the coldest spot on earth” as a consequence of the ground-breaking research conducted there. Using nuclear demagnetisation in conjunction with helium dilution refrigerators of nuclear alignment, Professor Kurti was able to create temperatures of a millionth of a degree above absolute zero.

There is a strong connection between Oxford Instruments and Professor Kurti. Sir Martin Wood, the founder and deputy chairman of Oxford Instruments, held the Senior Research Officer position at the Clarendon Laboratory in the 1950s with responsibility for the engineering facility of the high magnetic field section of the laboratory which was directed by Nicholas Kurti. When Professor Kurti retired, he decided to apply his low temperature physics knowledge to the kitchen. He created a new science, Molecular Gastronomy, the application of scientific principles to the understanding and improvement of small scale food preparation. Chefs, scientists and food writers around the world have developed the subject since his death in 1998.

Oxford Instruments NanoScience would like to thank Mrs Giana Kurti for her agreement to name the prize after her late husband.


Selection Committee 

Prize Committee Chairman:

Professor George Pickett, Lancaster University

Prize Committee Members:

Professor Rolf Haug, Universität Hannover 

Professor Vladimir Dmitriev, P L Kapitza Institute, Moscow

Professor Dominik Zumbühl, University of Basel and

Dr Silviano De Francheshi, CEA-INAC

Other Science Prizes

Previous Nicholas Kurti Science Prize Winners

Dr Moll is recognised for leading the development of novel micro-structuring techniques, allowing the fabrication of bespoke devices and experiments from complex quantum materials, and enabling entirely new classes of low temperature and high magnetic field measurements.

2018 Prize Winner: Dr Philip Moll

Dr Francois Parmentier of Service de Physique de l'Etat Condensé, Université Paris-Saclay, France and Dr Erwann Bocquillon of Laboratoire Pierre Aigrain, France – are the joint winners of the 2017 Nicholas Kurti Science Prize.

2017 Prize Winners: Dr Francois Parmentier and Dr Erwann Bocquillon

Dr Caviglia of Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, Delft University of Technology is recognised for his contribution to the field of complex oxide films and structures, in particular the electric field control of superconductivity at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface.

2016 Prize Winner: Dr Andrea Caviglia

Dr Guillamón is recognised for her work on vortices in superconductors, mainly for imaging experiments with exquisite detail covering 4 orders of magnitude, from looking on spectroscopy of vortex cores, to viewing thousands of vortices at micron scale.

2015 Prize Winner: Dr Isabel Guillamón

Dr Alexander Ako Khajetoorians from the University of Hamburg has been the recipient of teh Nicholas Kurti Science Prize in 2014 and has been the Professor of Scanning Probe Microscopy within the Institute for Molecules and Materials at the Radboud.

2014 Prize Winner: Dr Alexander Ako Khajetoorians

Dr Lapo Bogani has conducted ground-breaking research on magnetic nano-materials with an unusually wide scope, ranging from synthesis to characterisation and modelling.

2013 Prize Winner: Dr Lapo Bogani

Dr Ronald Hanson was awarded the Prize for his work on the behaviour of spins in quantum dots and diamond.

2012 Prize Winner: Dr Ronald Hanson

Prof Kläui from the SwissFEL, Paul Scherrer Institute and the Laboratory of nano-magnetism and Spin Dynamics, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne is recognised for his work on the fundamentally novel magnetic and electronic transport properties.

2011 Prize Winner: Prof Mathias Kläui

Dr Christian Rüegg was awarded the Prize for his work on quantum phase transitions and novel phases in magnetic materials.

2010 Prize Winner: Dr Christian Rüegg

Dr Morton has pioneered the application of techniques of magnetic resonance spectroscopy to combinations of electron and nuclear spins to store quantum information for extended times and to manipulate it with exquisite precision.

2009 Prize Winner: Dr John Morton

Prof Vandersypen was awarded for his work on the coherent control of spins for possible applications in quantum information processing, first using nuclear spins in molecules in liquid solution (NMR), and later using electron spins in semiconductor quantum dots.

2008 Prize Winner: Prof Lieven Vandersypen

Prof Novoselov was awarded for the discovery of graphene. The work entailed the difficult task of fabricating transistors from such delicate structures. A wide range of new physical phenomena in these materials was discovered, including the observation of the quantum Hall effect in graphene.

2007 Prize Winner: Prof Kostya Novoselov

Prof Wallraff is recognised for highly original experiments on quantum mechanical effects in superconducting circuits, combining low-noise electronics, mK temperatures and microwave techniques, that impacted quantum mechanics of macroscopic solid state systems.

2006 Prize Winner: Prof Andreas Wallraff

Dr Franceschi was awarded for his achievements in the field of quantum transport notably, for his work at Delft University of Technology that resulted in highly innovative results on Kondo effects in semiconductor nanostructures and also on hybrid nanostructures.

2005 Prize winner: Dr Silvano De Franceschi