Researchers make elusive discovery and capture prestigious AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize

An elusive discovery by a group of researchers earned them the coveted 2004-2005 AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, the oldest award conferred by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), publisher of the journal Science. In a paper published in Science, the research team reported observing the spin Hall effect, the first time it has been seen in an experiment.

The researchers are Yuichiro K. Kato, Roberto C. Myers, Arthur C. Gossard, and David Awschalom. The journal report, "Observation of the Spin Hall Effect in Semiconductors," was published online in Science Express on 11 November 2004 and in the print edition on 10 December 2004. At the time of publication, the authors' affiliation was the Center for Spintronics and Quantum Computation, University of California, Santa Barbara. Today, Kato is at Stanford University.

This paper shows the spin effects in semiconducting materials induced by electric fields along the length of the material. The authors were able to show that oppositely directed effects could be induced at the edges, using an elegant optical technique. They then examined possible sources of the effect, showing that it is not the result of intrinsic coupling but rather a form of scattering that did not depend on the nature of the semiconducting material used.

"The extraordinary care of the experiments and the clarity with which the mechanism of the effect was deduced has led to extraordinary attention from the condensed-matter and materials science communities," said Science Editor-in-Chief Donald Kennedy. "This is an outstanding contribution to the field of physics."

Affymetrix Inc. added its support to the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize in 2003. The company's founder, chair and chief executive officer Stephen P.A. Fodor and his colleagues were awarded the Newcomb Cleveland Prize in 1990 for their landmark publication which first introduced microarray technology to the scientific community.

Contact: Lonnie Shekhtman
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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