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1997 Discover Awards honor IBM Research achievements in nanotechnology

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Zurich, Switzerland, 2 June 1997—IBM Research's pioneering work in nanotechnology was recognized with the 1997 Editor's Choice award for Emerging Technology at the Eighth Annual Discover Magazine Awards for Technological Innovation, held on Saturday, May 31. An IBM Research team from Zurich, Switzerland, led by Dr. James Gimzewski, was honored for building a fully functional abacus that uses individual molecules as the "beads" for counting. The "finger" used to move the molecule beads is the ultra-fine tip of a scanning tunneling microscope (STM). The IBM team formed stable rows of ten molecules each along steps just one atom high on a copper surface. Researchers working with Dr. Gimzewski include Maria Teresa Cuberes and Reto R. Schlittler.

"This award is a reflection on the deep, worldwide commitment of the IBM Corporation to pursuing hugely experimental exploratory research projects," said Dr. Paul Horn, Senior Vice President and Director of the IBM Research Division. "The full impact of our experiments in nanotechnology may not be realized for decades, but projects like the molecular abacus and the STM microscope could profoundly change the way people store and manipulate data in the future."

Another IBM Research technology, the Personal Area Network (PAN), was a finalist in the Discover Awards' Computer Hardware and Electronics category. Developed by Thomas Zimmerman, currently of IBM's Almaden Research Lab, PAN uses the natural electrical conductivity of the human body to transmit data between electronic devices.

Along with NASA and MIT, IBM Research is among the most honored organizations in the eighth year history of the Discover Awards program. Past finalists and winners include:

The IBM Immune System for Computers and Networks, a 1996 finalist, which captures and analyses computer viruses and then automatically produces a prescription for detection and removal which is shared among networked computers; The Multi-level Optical Disk, a 1995 winner, which for the first time allowed optical discs to be layered, greatly increasing storage capacity; The Handwritten Dynamic Signature Verification system, a 1994 winner, which stores and analyses signatures based on a number of factors to greatly increase verification of identification; The ThinkPad 700, a 1993 finalist, which featured the TrackPoint II pointing device, the now-famous "red dot" located in the keyboards of IBM-brand notebook computers; and The Screen Reader, a 1991 finalist, which was an early-generation computer interface for the blind that used voice synthesis to describe on-screen information. Now in their eighth year, the Discover Awards for Technological Innovation honor men and women whose creative genius improves the quality of everyday life and who alert us to the next frontiers of human achievement and ingenuity. More than 4,500 technologies were nominated this year, from which 33 finalists were chosen in eight categories.

Press contact

Nicole Strachowski
Media Relations
IBM Research - Zurich
Tel +41 44 724 84 45

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