Prof. Bart J. van Wees
Bart van Wees (Nootdorp, 1961), Professor of Applied Physics at the University of Groningen, is a known authority in his field and considered to be one of the best physicists in the world. He is a brilliant researcher in the highly complex field of conductance in nanostructures and was a pioneer in the new field of spintronics (rotation of electrons). He was awarded the NWO Spinoza Prize in 2016 – also known as the Dutch Nobel Prize – for his groundbreaking work. Van Wees made his mark early on in his scientific career with a revolutionary breakthrough in the research into quantizing the conductance of a point contact. It was for this work that he received the McMillan Award from the University of Illinois in 1990 and, together with two colleagues, the Shell Prize two years later. The content of his most cited article on this research, an article from 1987, now appears in all textbooks on the steps of quantized conductance. Having transferred to the UG in 1991, he continued his pioneering work with fundamental research into superconductivity in nanostructures, a field that is now largely based on his work. This was the groundwork that led him to become the world-leading scientist he is today. His research now focuses on a completely new field: spintronics or the study of the rotation of electrons. He was the first in the world to succeed in achieving what is termed spin injection in graphene. Graphene is a new, extremely thin two-dimensional material that consists of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a h exagonal lattice. Both the possible applications and the economic impact of this research on business are unprecedented. Furthermore, Van Wees’s work has led not only to interesting discoveries but also to breakthroughs that are relevant to society. For instance, he is looking for properties in materials that are also present at room temperature, which can be used in practice. One of his greatest skills is linking fundamental research to practical applications. With his great passion for physics and his unique talent, Van Wees is a particularly productive scientist, who boats more than 250 outstanding scientific publications and over 18,000 citations. He ranks among the absolute top in his field and has a unique ability to apply science to society.