THE BLAISE PASCAL MEDALS 2016

Blaise Pascal Medal in Chemistry

Professor Gianfranco Pacchioni, University of Milano Bicocca (Italy)


In recognition of his outstanding and lasting contributions to the theoretical understanding of oxide surfaces and thin films

 
"Two-dimensional oxides: new structures, new functions and new materials"

Graphene is the prototype of two-dimensional (2D) materials, but is not the only one. SiO2 films of few nanometers thickness grown on Si have been the basis of the microelectronics revolution in the second half of last century. In general, ultrathin oxide films grown on a metal, also called two-dimensional oxides, have a wide range of roles and applications, as separating layers in new generations of magnetic devices, as passive layers in corrosion protection, or as active heterogeneous catalysts, just to mention a few. Oxides at the nanoscale may exhibit specific surface morphology, physical properties, chemical reactivity, thus providing new opportunities for the design of innovative materials. Quantum theory has a very important role in this field and, in combination with experiments, can answer fundamental questions and help in the design of 2D oxides with tailored properties. In this talk we will discuss, among others, oxide ultrathin films in heterogeneous catalysis and nanocatalysis, including new phenomena such as charging of supported metal particles, structural flexibility, nanoporosity, that contribute to make these systems unprecedented.



Blaise Pascal Medal in Earth and Environmental Sciences

Professor Ni-Bin Chang, University of Central Florida (United States)


In recognition of his outstanding contributions to Environmental Sustainability, Green Engineering, and Systems Analysis

 
"How does Artificial Intelligence work with Remote Sensing Technologies for multi-scale environmental change detection?"

Contemporary challenges in remote sensing for environmental change detection include: 1) the complexity of remote sensing images with varying spatial, spectral, and temporal resolution, 2) the need for feature extraction of different objects from terrestrial to aquatic environments with differing nature at the ground level, and 3) the need for image reconstruction and cross mission data merging due to cloud contamination. This presentation will focus on how the artificial intelligence techniques can come to help for dealing with these challenges. The spectrum of applications will cover a suite of urban land use and land cover change detection and water quality monitoring with artificial intelligence techniques. In this context, emphasis will be placed on the possible integration between data fusion and data mining. In addition, it is noticeable that cloud contamination is a big obstacle when processing satellite images retrieved from visible and infrared spectral ranges for earth observations. A new algorithm called the SMart Information Reconstruction (SMIR) for cloudy pixel reconstruction using artificial intelligence techniques will be discussed as well. Such advancement led to a series of breakthroughs in earth system observations.


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Blaise Pascal Medal in Materials Science

Professor Elvira Fortunato, Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal)


In recognition of the outstanding originality and creativity of her research in Physics and Materials Science

 
"Where science fiction meets reality?"

The evolution from rigid silicon-based electronics to flexible electronics requires the use of new materials with novel functionalities that allow non-conventional, low-cost and environmental friendly processing technologies. Among the alternatives, metal oxide semiconductors have brought to attention as backplane materials for the next generation of flat panel displays. After the huge success and revolution of transparent electronics and with the worldwide interest in displays where metal oxide thin films have proved to be truly semiconductors, display backplanes have already gone commercial in a very short period of time, due to the huge investment of several high profile companies: SHARP, SAMSUNG, LG and BOE. These materials have demonstrated exceptional electronic performance as active semiconductor components and can be tuned for applications where high transparency/electrical conductivity is demanded. The new paradigm of transparent electronics has attracted much interest as a novel technical solution in the field of the next generation of consumer electronics. The ultimate goal of this “see-through” device is to realize an integrated system equipped with ubiquitous functions of information storage, image display and networking, which strongly demands an embeddable transparent array of non-volatile memory.