Professor William E. Moerner awarded Wolf Prize in Chemistry

William E. Moerner

William E. Moerner

Chemistry Professor William E. Moerner will receive the 2008 Wolf Prize in Chemistry on May 25 in Jerusalem. Moerner, who holds the Harry S. Mosher Professorship, will share the $100,000 award with Allen J. Bard of the University of Texas-Austin for developing the fields of single molecule optical imaging and electrochemistry, respectively. The technologies they developed enable researchers to make measurements of individual molecules and how they interact.

The Wolf Foundation noted the broad applications of Moerner's and Bard's work in a press release, crediting them with "the ingenious creation of a new field of science, single molecule spectroscopy and electrochemistry, with impact at the nanoscopic regime, from the molecular and cellular domain to complex material systems."

"It's clearly very, very exciting to receive this award, but it's also a great step for the field," Moerner said. "It's a recognition that a lot of people are working in this area now, applying single-molecule optical methods to look at biological systems." Moerner emphasized that a great many researchers have contributed to the development of the field over the past 20 years since the original work in his lab in 1987-1989.

Moerner and Bard will be honored in a ceremony at Chagall Hall in the Knesset (Parliament) in Jerusalem, and will receive their award from President Shimon Peres. Israeli Minister of Education Yuli Tamir, who serves as chairwoman of the Wolf Foundation Council, will attend the ceremony. The Wolf Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Israel that funds research and education, and awards prizes to exceptional scientists and artists worldwide.

Hayley Rutger is a science-writing intern at the Stanford News Service.