Michele Parrinello awarded with the 2020 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry

Prof. Michele Parrinello
Prof. Michele Parrinello

Institutional Communication Service

7 February 2020

Professor Michele Parrinello (USI, ETH Zurich, and IIT Genoa), together with Professor Roberto Car (Princeton University), will be awarded with the 2020 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry for having invented a computational method for mapping and predicting the behavior of atoms in motion, an approach with extensive applications from researching new materials to drug development. The award will be conferred during the ceremony on April 20 at the Franklin Institute, in Philadelphia, PA (USA).

Since 1824, The Franklin Institute of Philadelphia has honored the legacy of Benjamin Franklin by presenting awards for outstanding achievements in science, engineering, and industry. Past laureates include Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Nikola Tesla, Stephen Hawking, the Wright Brothers, Bill Gates, and Albert Einstein.

The medals will be awarded this year in various fields of science and technology, including computer and cognitive science, earth and environmental science, life sciences, mechanical engineering, physics, and chemistry. Professors Car and Parrinello will receive the medal in chemistry for having developed the "Car-Parrinello method”, which calculates the movement of electrons and their nuclei, which before had to be studied independently. The Car-Parrinello molecular dynamics method, which was developed from 1984, eventually became a powerful tool for studying chemical structures; it has been called a “virtual microscope” for looking at the motion of individual atoms. The technique has had broad applications in physics and chemistry, explaining phenomena such as changes in electrical conductivity of materials in the transition from solid to liquid state. The Car-Parrinello method allows quantum chemists and physicists to understand atomic behavior in far-ranging applications; for example, analyzing the structure of the Earth’s mantle or molecular interactions within cells.


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