Humboldt Research Award for Top US Researcher Robert J. Cava of Princeton

Renowned materials scientist comes to Germany at the invitation of researchers at Mainz University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology / Focus on superconductors


US scientist Robert J. Cava of Princeton University is the recipient of a research prize of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The prize is worth EUR 60,000 and will facilitate more extensive cooperation between the internationally renowned materials scientist and his German hosts, the Mainz chemist Professor Claudia Felser and the Karlsruhe physicist Professor Hilbert von Löhneysen. The Humboldt Award winner Robert J. Cava plans to come to Germany for an extended research stay next year.

Robert Cava is among the world's leading researchers into strongly correlated electron materials. These include high-temperature superconductors that employ cuprates and iron pnictides as well as rare earth alloys whose electrons exhibit unusual characteristics, such as superconductivity that can induce magnetism. He has written over 600 publications, is a member of the National Academy of Sciences in the US, and has received numerous prizes, including this year's ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Cava is also considered an excellent teacher as his numerous teaching awards demonstrate.

Professor Claudia Felser's work group at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has maintained contacts with the American materials scientist ever since the 1990s, the result of which has been numerous joint publications. Cava has already received the EUR 10,000 Gutenberg Lecture Award 2011 from the Graduate School Materials Science in Mainz (MAINZ). Leslie Schoop, a doctoral student at the MAINZ Graduate School, is currently working on her dissertation in Cava's laboratory at Princeton University. When Schoop finishes her dissertation, she will receive a double degree from both Mainz University and Princeton. The emphasis of the joint projects being undertaken by Cava and the JGU researchers is on a systematic search for new superconductors. The joint efforts of the researchers working under Professor Hilbert von Löhneysen at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are focused on the investigation of strongly correlated electron materials and the analysis of new superconductors, such as iron pnictide systems.

"We are looking forward to continuing even closer cooperation with Robert Cava, who we revere as both an excellent researcher and inspiring teacher," stated Felser and Löhneysen when informed that their joint nomination submitted to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation had been successful. The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz are not the only German institutions involved; also participating are scientific institutions in Cologne and Augsburg, the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research in Dresden together with the Max Planck Institutes in Dresden and Stuttgart. One important objective of the project is to include young scientists to give them the opportunity to do research in an exciting international environment.

Professor Claudia Felser heads the "Materials for Optical, Magnetic, and Energy Technologies" division at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry and is director of the MAINZ Graduate School at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Since December 1, 2011, she has been director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids in Dresden, but is also continuing to work as a professor at Mainz University. For many years, she has been concentrating on the development of pioneering materials with unique properties and enjoys an outstanding international reputation as an expert in Heusler compounds. The MAINZ Graduate School received its initial funding support through the German Federal Excellence Initiative in 2007. It is also participating in the second round of the competition and recently submitted a follow-up proposal for continued funding.

Hilbert von Löhneysen is a professor at the Department of Physics at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, where he heads the Institute for Solid-State Physics, which has a long history of research into superconducting materials. He is the spokesman for the Quantum Phase Transitions Research Unit, and a founding member of the Center for Functional Nanostructures Research Center and Cluster of Excellence at KIT, both sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG). In addition to various other posts and memberships, Hilbert von Löhneysen is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the MAINZ Graduate School.

The Humboldt Research Award is bestowed upon non-German scientists in recognition of the work that they have already achieved. Since it is not possible to apply for the prize, the potential contenders are nominated by German scientists. The Humboldt Foundation bestows a maximum of 100 Humboldt Research Awards per year.