The energy highway of the future

Top US researcher Robert J. Cava of Princeton University receives the Gutenberg Lecture Award worth EUR 10,000 from the MAINZ Graduate School for his research on superconductivity


The Graduate School "Materials Science in Mainz" (MAINZ) at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) annually presents the Gutenberg Lecture Award to an internationally outstanding researcher in the field of materials science. This year's prize winner is Professor Robert J. Cava of Princeton University, who received the Gutenberg Lecture Award 2011 worth EUR 10,000 during a ceremony held in his honor. By awarding this prize to Cava, the Materials Science Graduate School in Mainz (MAINZ) is honoring one of the most esteemed materials researchers. Professor Cava enjoys a world-wide reputation and has recently received the ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry from the American Chemical Society (ACS). He is also an outstanding lecturer and has received several teaching awards. "Robert Cava is among the best in his field worldwide. Not only is he an excellent researcher, but also an inspiring teacher, motivating both his undergraduate students and doctoral candidates and providing them with excellent advice. We look forward to working more closely with him and his team in future," said the Director of the MAINZ Graduate School, Professor Dr. Claudia Felser, during the award ceremony.

Professor Cava completed his studies and his doctoral dissertation in materials science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He subsequently spent several years working as a materials researcher in industry and has been professor for chemistry and materials science at Princeton University, one of the eight Ivy League universities in the USA, since 1996. His current work combines both chemistry and physics, with the emphasis on research in new superconductive materials. Superconductors have the characteristic that they lose their electrical resistance once they have been cooled to below a critical temperature, thus allowing them to eject from their interior the influence of external magnetic fields. Superconductors and particularly high-temperature superconductors are regarded as an important future technology as they can ensure minimum losses during energy transfer. Cava has discovered over 100 new compounds including also interesting magnetic materials, many of them with superconductive and other extraordinary properties. He has recently been working on so-called "topological insulators," i.e. new materials with very unusual properties that were discovered only a few years ago. Topological insulators behave like insulators on the inside, while their surfaces are excellent conductors. Cava is one of the world's most productive researchers with more than 500 publications to his name. Some of these have appeared in leading scientific journals such as Nature, Science and the Physical Review Letters. His work is internationally recognized and has attracted both national and international awards. Most recently – on 29 March 2011 – he received the ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry in Anaheim, California. This prize is awarded by the American Chemical Society, a specialized scientific association.

Cava received the Gutenberg Lecture Award worth EUR 10,000 at a ceremony in Mainz last Thursday. The award will contribute towards strengthening the links between the materials science team of the MAINZ Graduate School and Cava's team. As early as summer 2011, Leslie Schoop, a doctoral degree candidate at the Graduate School and a member of Claudia Felser's team, will be traveling to Princeton to work on her dissertation there as part of a cooperation project with the MAINZ Graduate School.

The Graduate School "Materials Science in Mainz" (MAINZ was sponsored as part of the excellence initiative in 2007 and will be applying for further funding during the second phase of the initiative in autumn 2011. MAINZ consists of teams working at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Kaiserslautern Technical University, and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research. Outstanding postgraduates in the field of natural sciences from Germany and abroad receive an excellent level of training in the field of materials science at the MAINZ Graduate School.