Agilent Technologies Presents Europhysics Prize for Pioneering Work on Quantum Behavior of Molecular Nanomagnets

8/27/2002 - Agilent Technologies presented the Agilent Technologies Europhysics Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Condensed Matter Physics to five scientists for their pioneering work in the study of the quantum behavior of molecular nanomagnets. The award, presented at a general conference of the European Physical Society (EPS), explores the relatively uncharted region between classical and quantum physics.

Agilent's Roberto Favaretto, vice president and general manager, Europe/Middle East/Africa, presented the 2002 award to Bernard Barbara (France), Jonathan Friedman (USA), Dante Gatteschi (Italy), Roberta Sessoli (Italy) and Wolfgang Wernsdorfer (France) for revealing quantum effects in the magnetic dynamics of molecular nanomagnets. The quantum effects were observed at the mesoscopic scale, intermediate between microscopic and macroscopic.

"The Agilent Technologies Europhysics Prize demonstrates our commitment to fundamental contributions in scientific areas of interest to Agilent," said Favaretto. "These researchers have made a unique contribution to nanotechnology by revealing quantum behavior at the mesoscopic scale."

History of Award
Since 1975, the award has been given to leading scientists in nearly every internationally important area of condensed matter physics. The award is one of the most prestigious prizes given by the EPS. In the past, eight recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in physics or chemistry.

Agilent funds the prize by annual donations to the EPS. The Agilent Technologies Europhysics prize includes a cash award of 51,000 Swiss Francs and is given in recognition of scientific excellence in basic or applied research in the physics of solids and liquids, with particular emphasis on recent work that leads to advances in the fields of electronic, electrical and materials engineering. A committee appointed by the EPS, which includes Jim Hollenhorst, the director of the Electronic Research Laboratory at Agilent Laboratories, selects the recipient.

Scientific Background
Quantum mechanics describes the behavior of matter and energy at the atomic scale. The rules of quantum theory defy common sense and seem at odds with the laws of classical physics, which describe the behavior of matter and energy at the macroscopic scale. The mysterious transition region between classical and quantum physics has been of great interest because it tests our understanding of how the strange laws of quantum theory can coexist with the familiar laws of our daily lives.

The tiny magnets that exist within atoms are known to behave according to the rules of quantum mechanics. The 2002 Europhysics prize recognizes work on "mesoscopic magnetism" -- the behavior of magnets whose size is intermediate between that of atoms and of ordinary magnets. In a series of carefully designed experiments, the winning researchers observed "Quantum Tunneling of Magnetization (QTM)" in which the strength and direction of the magnetic field of a nanomagnet changes in ways that are contrary to the laws of classical physics but in agreement with the laws of quantum theory.

Observation of this behavior is extremely difficult. For example, the experiments had to be carried out at temperatures just a few degrees above absolute zero, at minus 273 degrees Celsius (minus 459 degrees Fahrenheit) -- the lowest possible temperature that can be achieved. These experiments represent rare instances in which quantum effects have been observed in mesoscopic systems.

Practical application of the work is not imminent, but molecular nanomagnets have been proposed as a way to enable "quantum computers," which, in theory, could perform computations many times faster than present computers, enabling calculations of unimaginable complexity.

Agilent Technologies' philanthropy programs, which funded the award, sponsor equipment grants and inquiry into research and technologies that address Agilent's strategic focus in the areas of telecommunications and life sciences.

About Agilent Laboratories (
Agilent Laboratories is one of the leading technological research centers in the world. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., Agilent Labs draws on the talents of more than 400 researchers and support staff. The Labs conducts applied research in communications, electronics, the life sciences, and measurement; fundamental research in bioscience, fiber optics, materials, microelectronics, optoelectronics, and micromechanical systems; and basic research. Agilent Labs is focused on driving growth and profit for the company's businesses through technology innovation.

About Agilent Technologies (
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is a global technology leader in communications, electronics and life sciences. The company's 37,000 employees serve customers in more than 120 countries. Agilent had net revenue of $8.4 billion in fiscal year 2001.

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