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J.C. Kapteyn Lecture

Broerstraat 5

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My 50-Year Journey in the World of Nanoscience

Mildred Dresselhaus

Professor Mildred Dresselhaus, also known as ‘the queen of carbon’, worked for more than 50 years in the world of physics. She is best known for her work on carbon science and carbon nanostructures, as well as nanoscience and nanotechnology more generally. In her Kapteyn Lecture, she takes the audience on a 50 year journey through the world of nanoscience.

“My more-than-50-year journey started in 1960 when I started my independent professional career being hired to explore interesting science without much guidance on what to do. I thought that a layered material like carbon could host interesting guest ions and molecules, so I decided to see what such guest species would do to modify the properties of the host carbon material and how the layered carbon environment would modify the properties of the guest species. My special tool in 1960 was studying magnetic field effects. When my magnetic field facility suddenly disappeared, I had a career change and started working on nanotubes which was a new field opening up at that time. All of these topics turned out to be interesting and fruitful studies and provided projects for many undergraduate and graduate students over my more than 50 year nanoscience journey. In my Kapteyn Lecture, I will try to show you that these projects get more and more interesting as we learn more about Nanoscience.”

Professor Mildred Dresselhaus (Brooklyn 1930) began her independent scientific career in 1960 as a member of the research staff at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. In 1985, she was appointed the first female Institute Professor in the departments of Physics and Electrical Engineering at MIT. She has been an officer in many national organizations in physics, engineering, and related areas. Honors and awards include 35 honorary doctorates worldwide, and the National Medal of Science, the Fermi Prize, and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The KNG, the Royal Physical Sciences Society (founded in 1801) organizes the J.C. Kapteyn Lecture for a wide audience in co-operation with Studium Generale Groningen. The lecture is named after the renowned astronomer Jacobus C. Kapteyn (1851-1922), the first Professor of Astronomy at the University of Groningen and for many years a member of the board and chair of the scientific lectures chapter of the KNG.

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