Future Science Prize announced the winners of 2021 in Beijing on September 12th. Prof. Kwok-Yung Yuen and Prof. Joseph Sriyal Malik Peiris won the Prize in life sciences for their discoveries of SARS-CoV-1 as the causative agent for the global SARS outbreak in 2003 and its zoonotic origin, with impact on combating Covid-19 and emerging infectious diseases. Prof. Jie Zhang won the Future Science Prize in physical sciences for his development of laser-based fast electron beam technologies and their applications in ultrafast time–resolved electron microscopy and fast ignition for research towards inertial confinement fusion. Prof. Simon Sze won the prize in mathematics and computer science, for his contributions to understanding carrier transports at the interface between metal and semiconductor, enabling Ohmic and Schottky-contact formations for scaling integrated circuits at the “Moore’s law” rate during the past five decades.
During the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SAR) in 2003, Kwok-Yung Yuen, Joseph Sriyal Malik Peiris and their team treated the first patients in Hong Kong and isolated SARS-CoV-1 from their clinical specimens, which was critical to the design of diagnostic tests and disease characterization. Kwok-Yung Yuen’s continued studies on SARS-like viruses in wild bats greatly increased the knowledge of zoonotic reservoirs, barriers to cross-species transmission, pathogenesis, and clinical diagnosis of these viruses. The bat coronavirus HKU4/5 was found to be closely related to MERS-CoV that caused the epidemic Middle East respiratory syndrome.
2021 Future Science Prize – Physical Science Prize
Dr. Jie Zhang is a pioneer in developing methods for efficient generation of controlled, high-intensity fast electrons (~100 keV to 10 MeV) through tera- to peta-Watt laser beams. Leading a strong team of collaborators, Zhang has made a series of major breakthroughs with fast electron beams, including efficient generation of nonthermal electrons, tuning the electron beam energy with lasers, a realization of highly directional electron emission, and world records on the temporal resolution of electron beam imaging.
Dr. Zhang’s research on fast electron beams was initially driven by the prospect of inertial confinement fusion (ICF), a process, if realized, could provide unlimited energy supply for the human kind. The new electron source provides a crucial tool for ICF with fast ignition, a concept pioneered by Dr. Zhang. The fast ignition approach disentangles fuel ignition from compression, allowing optimization of these two processes independently while avoiding instabilities.
2021 Future Science Prize – Mathematics and Computer Science Prize
Prof. Simon Sze has made pioneering contributions to inter-metal/semiconductor carrier transports for semiconductor devices, including both analytical and experimental investigations to Ohmic and Schottky contact behaviors over extensive doping (1014-1020/cm3) and operating temperature ranges (Si: 77K-373K; GaAs: 50K-500K) by simultaneously addressing effects of quantum mechanical tunneling, thermionic emission, image-force lowering and two-dimensional statistical impurity variations across the metal/semiconductor interface barriers.
He co-discovered the effect of floating gate memory with Dr. Dawon Kahng in the US in 1967, which is the key invention of non-volatile memories including the flash memory. He conducted this awarded research work on Ohmic and Schottky contacts at the Chiao Tung University (Today’s Yang Ming Chiao Tung University) during 1968-1969.
He has also authored a legendary research monograph “Physics of Semiconductor Devices” graduate school faculty/students, and engineers across the entire electronic and photonic industry.
Future Science Prize is a privately-funded scientific award in China. It was established in 2016 to award those scientists whose original research, conducted mostly in Mainland China , Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, has made a significant impact on the international science community, and has passed the test of time, regardless of their nationality, gender, or age.
The nomination and selection process of the Prize was established in according with the Nobel Prize system: the Science Committee of the Future Science Prize invites international experts as nominators.
The cash award for the Future Science Prize in each category is 1 million US dollars (approximately 6.5 million Chinese Yuan), each donated by four individual philanthropists. The donors for the Life Science Prize are James Ding, Robin Li, Neil Shen and Lei Zhang. The donors for the Physical Science Prize are Feng Deng, Yajun Wu, Ying Wu and Bob Xu. The donors for Mathematics and Computer Science Prize are William Ding, Jason Jiang, Pony Ma and Victor Wang.