MRS to Honor UC Berkeley Physics Professor with 2014 Von Hippel Award

The 2014 Von Hippel Award, the Materials Research Society’s (MRS) highest honor, will be presented to Marvin L. Cohen, University Professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley (UC–Berkeley) and senior scientist in the Materials Sciences Division of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

Cohen is being recognized for “explaining and predicting properties of materials and for successfully predicting new materials using microscopic quantum theory.” Cohen will accept the honor during the Awards Ceremony of the 2014 MRS Fall Meeting in Boston on Wednesday, December 3, at 6:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Boston Hotel. There, he will also present his award lecture, Explaining and Predicting the Properties of Materials Using Quantum Theory.

Cohen is recognized internationally as the leading expert in theoretical calculations of the ground-state properties and elementary excitations of real materials systems. His pioneering work on the pseudopotential method has been the critical theoretical tool that has made “first-principles” studies of complex real materials systems tractable. Prior to his seminal work, theoretical studies of solids involved idealized models, but Cohen moved the field toward accurate calculations of real materials. His research provided a standard model that is used throughout the field and is applicable to bulk crystal properties, surfaces and interfaces, and nanostructures. Cohen revolutionized the concept of solids through theoretical studies that resulted in a new understanding of the electronic and vibrational nature of solid systems. This work led to physical theories and computational approaches capable of describing and predicting basic properties of materials.

Cohen has been responsible for several major achievements in the physical understanding of materials; he predicted the superconductivity of semiconductors; he designed new materials using the computer, one of which rivals the hardness of diamond; he predicted a new class of nanotubes based on the Bucky-Balls concept that is being studied experimentally; he has also made numerous predictions of the properties, structure, and phase diagrams of solids at very high pressure.

Cohen received an AB degree from UC–Berkeley in 1957 and MS (1958) and PhD degrees (1964) from the University of Chicago. After completing his studies, Cohen spent a year at Bell Telephone Laboratories as a member of the technical staff. In 1964, he joined the physics faculty at UC–Berkeley, and in 1965, he was appointed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Cohen contributed to more than 800 publications. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. His honors include the National Medal of Science, the APS Oliver E. Buckley Prize for Solid State Physics, the APS Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize, the Foresight Institute Richard P. Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, the Technology Pioneer Award from the World Economic Forum, the Dickson Prize in Science, the Department of Energy (DOE) Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Solid State Physics, and the DOE Award for Sustained Outstanding Research. He is a member of the Berkeley Fellows, and was awarded Doctorat Honoris Causa at the University of Montreal, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The MRS Von Hippel Award includes a $10,000 cash prize, honorary lifetime membership in MRS, and a unique trophy—a mounted ruby laser crystal, symbolizing the many faceted nature of materials research. The award recognizes those qualities most prized by materials scientists and engineers—brilliance and originality of intellect, combined with vision that transcends the boundaries of conventional disciplines, as exemplified by the life of Arthur von Hippel (

Photo of Cohen available upon request at [email protected].


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