Michele Parrinello awarded 2021 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry

This was published on May 4, 2021

Michele Parrinello, professor of Computational Sciences at ETH Zurich and the Università della Svizzera italiana as well as group leader in NCCR MARVEL's Design & Discovery Project 1, was awarded the 2021 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry along with Roberto Car of Princeton University in recognition of their exceptional achievements in the field of molecular dynamics. 

by Carey Sargent, EPFL, NCCR MARVEL

The awards ceremony took place remotely on 29 April, honoring Car and Parrinello for their achievements. Portraits of the laureates and an explanation of how the Car-Parrinello method brought electrons back into simulations and revolutionized computational chemistry are available in this video.

"Our newest laureates are making our world safer, healthier, and more connected," The Franklin Institute said in a statement when the award was announced last year. "They made revolutionary advances in laser technology, learned how forests recover from fires, uncovered the mechanisms behind color vision, and laid the foundation for artificial intelligence. Their work enables technologies never before thought possible and helps us better understand our planet and ourselves. They are mentors and role models for the next generation of science and engineering trailblazers. They are creating a better future for us all."

Now in their 196th year, the Franklin Institute Awards honor achievements in science, engineering, and industry. The scientists were awarded the medal for inventing the Car-Parrinello method, a method that maps the interactions of large numbers of atoms in motion through quantum mechanics. This results in ab initio molecular dynamics simulations and allows researchers to observe the motion of individual atoms to get a better understanding of both static and dynamic properties of various complex systems. This method has already been applied in many areas of materials science, physics, chemistry and biology and has enabled researchers to describe and design new molecules and materials. 

A recording of the lecture given by Car and Parrinello on molecular dynamics as part of the CECAM/MARVEL series Classics in molecular and materials modeling is available here.

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