Posted October 22, 2002 Atlanta
Uzi Landman, director of Georgia Tech's Center for Computational Materials Science, will receive recognition from the MRS, the world's largest materials professional society. The medal award is given to recognize "a specific outstanding recent discovery or advancement that is expected to have a major impact on the progress of any materials-related field." Charles M. Lieber of Harvard University will also be honored with a medal at the ceremony.
Landman's award is for the development and implementation of research methods that use molecular dynamics simulations to predict the often-surprising behavior that occurs at the nanoscale when surfaces of solid and liquid materials meet. Landman's research team has examined the effects of friction and lubrication in these small-scale systems, predicting how such systems would behave long before they could be fabricated. Over time, most of their key predictions in this new science of nanotribology have been confirmed experimentally.
Performed on large parallel-processing computers, the simulations use known laws of physics -- including quantum mechanics -- to predict how hundreds of thousands of molecules or atoms interact and respond to external influences such as the application of a load. The resulting calculations will help engineers design smaller and smaller disk drives, nanometer-scale machines and even biomechanical implants used in the body.
A faculty member in Georgia Tech's School of Physics since 1977 and currently a Regents' and Institute Professor and Fuller E. Callaway chair, Landman began working on molecular dynamics simulations in the late 1970s. A 1990 article he published in the journal Science brought particular attention to the field by "demonstrating the capacity of realistic molecular dynamics simulations to make specific predictions that could be compared to quantitative measurements in the field of tribology," the MRS citation says.
"In many respects, Landman helped create the field of nanotribology as he contributed to both classical and quantum mechanical molecular dynamics simulation methodologies, leading to an understanding of the atomic origins underlying nanoscale tribological processes," the citation adds.