Robert Cahn Award 2020

It is our pleasure to announce that the Robert Cahn Award 2020 has been attributed to Dr. Robert S. Averback, Professor Emeritus of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Professor Averback received his PhD for work on low-temperature physics at Michigan State University in 1972. He became interested in radiation damage in nuclear materials while a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University. Before going to the University of Illinois as Professor in 1987, he was a staff physicist at Argonne National Laboratory for 13 years. Professor Averback was a guest scientist at the Forschungszentrum J├╝lich in both 1981 and 1994 and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in 2008. He received an Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Award in 1993 and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He held the Donald W. Hamer Professorship for Materials Science and Engineering from 2002-2015, served on the Board of Directors for the Materials Research Society 2002-2005 and on the Board of Governance for the BP-ICAM 2015-2018.

A common denominator in Professor Averback’s multitudinous research accomplishments is the evolution of materials under irradiation and other energy inputs such as inducing plastic deformation. Combining creativity with thoroughness, the problems he chooses have been broad, covering metals, semiconductors, and ceramics, applying a vast range of experimental techniques to synthesize, characterize, and process materials, from single crystal thin films to nanocrystalline materials. To complement his creative experimental work, Professor Averback has also extensively used atomistic simulations.

He has published over 290 peer-reviewed journal publications and has (co-)organized and lectured at several summer schools.

The Robert Cahn Award is given to Professor Averback in recognition to his lifelong contribution to the field of nuclear materials, and his ability to communicate science to a wider audience.

Previous recipients of the award:

  • Professor Steven Zinkle, University of Texas/Oak Ridge National Lab, USA (NuMat 2010, Karlsruhe, Germany)
  • Professor Sydney Yip, MIT, USA (NuMat 2012, Osaka, Japan)
  • Dr Claudio Ronchi, JCR-ITU, Germany (NuMat 2014, Clearwater, USA)
  • Professor Srikumar Banerjee, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, India (NuMat 2016, Montpellier, France)
  • Professor Rodney Ewing, Stanford University, USA (NuMat 2018, Seattle, USA)

Robert Cahn

Robert Cahn was a formidable scientist and credited by many as being a physicist who by his writings, teachings, and experiments in metallurgy, effectively created the field of materials science. An outstanding editor, he helped found the Journal of Nuclear Materials and three other journals. He set up and edited three series of books and three technical encyclopedias on materials science, and his energetic promotion of the subject was instrumental in defining it. He was also a prolific author. He wrote more than 200 scientific papers and wrote or edited some 25 books. He also wrote about 130 short articles, mainly for Nature magazine, about materials science for scientists with primary expertise in other branches of science. Even long into retirement, Robert was always willing and happy to give us the benefit of his great experience and wisdom whenever we had an idea that we wanted to explore. He travelled extensively, lectured frequently in many places, and often in several languages. He believed passionately that science needs to be communicated in a way that is clear and engaging for people from all backgrounds and cultures; and he felt strongly that Science itself should not be broken down into ghettos of knowledge.