P. G. de Gennes The Nobel Prize in Physics

biography

Professor at the Coll?ge de France, Chaire de Physique de la Mati?re Condens?e, Paris, France. The Nobel Prize in Physics 1991 "for discovering that methods developed for studying order phenomena in simple systems can be generalized to more complex forms of matter, in particular to liquid crystals and polymers". Research Interests : Gennes investigated how extremely complex forms of matter behave during the transition from order to disorder. He showed how electrically or mechanically induced phase changes transform liquid crystals from a transparent to an opaque state, the phenomenon exploited in liquid-crystal displays. His research on polymers contributed to understanding how the long molecular chains in molten polymers move, making it possible for scientists to better determine and control polymer properties. From 1980, he became interested in interfacial problems, in particular the dynamics of wetting. Recently, he has been concerned with the physical chemistry of adhesion. Currently de Gennes is working at the Institut Curie (Paris), an interdisciplinary center and hospital on cancer research. He works on cellular adhesion and, more recently, on brain function. Awards and Honors : P.G. de Gennes has received the Holweck Prize from the joint French and British Physical Society; the Ampere Prize, French Academy of Science; the gold medal from the French CNRS; the Matteuci Medal, Italian Academy; the Harvey Prize, Israel; the Wolf Prize, Israel; The Lorentz Medal, Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences; and polymer awards from both APS and ACS. He is a member of the French Academy of Sciences, the Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences, USA. P. G. de Gennes was born in Paris, France, in 1932. He majored from the ?cole Normale in 1955. From 1955 to 1959, he was a research engineer at the Atomic Energy Center (Saclay), working mainly on neutron scattering and magnetism, with advice from A. Herpin, A. Abragam and J. Friedel (PhD 1957). During 1959 he was a postdoctoral visitor with C. Kittel at Berkeley, and then served for 27 months in the French Navy. In 1961, he became assistant professor in Orsay and soon started the Orsay group on supraconductors. Later, 1968, he switched to liquid crystals. In 1971, he became Professor at the Coll?ge de France, and was a participant of STRASACOL (a joint action of Strasbourg, Saclay and College de France) on polymer physics. From 1980, he became interested in interfacial problems, in particular the dynamics of wetting. Recently, he has been concerned with the physical chemistry of adhesion.

P.G. de Gennes has received the Holweck Prize from the joint French and British Physical Society; the Ampere Prize, French Academy of Science; the gold medal from the French CNRS; the Matteuci Medal, Italian Academy; the Harvey Prize, Israel; the Wolf Prize, Israel; The Lorentz Medal, Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences; and polymer awards from both APS and ACS.

He is a member of the French Academy of Sciences, the Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences, USA.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1991, Editor Tore Fr?ngsmyr, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1992

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